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Tree Trimming


BGMU is committed to providing uninterrupted electric service. This vital service is supplied through a well-maintained electric delivery system. Our tree trimming program is an essential part of that process.

Since our accelerated program began in 2004, tree related outages have dropped significantly. It’s proof our tree trimming program works.

BGMU’s tree trimming practices conform with the procedures set forth in the American National Standards Institute publication, “Tree, Shrub, and Other Woody Plant Maintenance – Standard Practices” (ANSI A300). These standards require the use of “directional” and “natural trimming” methods (endorsed by the National Arborist Association, the National Arbor Day Foundation, and the International Society of Arboriculture).

For additional resources on tree trimming and planting, visit

BGMU’s Right-of-Way Foreman can address any concerns or questions about tree trimming. To contact the Right-of-Way Foreman, call 270-782-4558 or email

Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

BGMU is committed to providing customers with safe, reliable electric service. During periods of inclement weather, tree branches that contact power lines can cause power outages. These outages may result in risk to the public from downed power lines and potential property damage. In November 2004, BGMU started a trim cycle program with the goal of covering all electrical circuits from substations in four years. After the first year, tree related outages were reduced by 30 percent. Aside from being inconvenient, power outages also pose a threat to public health and safety. For example, power outages affect those on life support and may interrupt service to schools, hospitals, traffic signals, and sewer and water pumping facilities. BGMU’s line clearance program is designed to minimize such interruptions and hazards by clearing limbs, trees, vines and other vegetation away from power lines. By doing this before vegetation has a chance to damage property, cause power outages, or compromise safety, we can help assure you safe and reliable electric service.

Yes, communication is a crucial element of our program. You will receive an automated phone call notifying you that tree trimmers are scheduled to be in your area. Also, a tree crew foreman will attempt to make contact with the owner before going onto the property. Call BGMU’s Tree Trimming Schedule phone line at 270-782-4558 to find out where tree crews are working daily.

BGMU has the legal right through utility easements and prescriptive easements to enter upon a property to trim trees away from power lines. Courts in Kentucky clearly support a public utility’s right to trim and remove trees that are a danger to power lines and public safety.

Special training is required to safely work on trees close to electrical conductors. BGMU requires that line clearance specialists have training in proper arboricultural techniques set forth by the American National Standards Institute and other organizations.

BGMU can and does install underground lines. Despite being extremely expensive, utility companies and builders must be aware of trees in the area. During construction, tree roots, which provide support and nutrients, may be cut. Cutting tree roots can lead to tree decline or death and may cause a tree to uproot in high winds. Future maintenance of underground lines may also cause damage to existing tree roots, landscape, and lawns.

Tree trimming near electrical wires can result in injury or death. Only trained personnel should work around energized lines.

Environmental Questions

Trimming does not harm trees when done in accordance with proper techniques set forth by the American National Standards Institute and recommended by the Tree Care Industry Association, International Society of Arboriculture and National Arbor Day Foundation. Pruning or trimming is done not only by utilities, but also by municipalities and highway departments to maintain roadway clearance. Pruning is one of the most important means of maintaining and improving tree health and does not harm trees when basic horticultural principles are followed.

BGMU’s line clearance contractors do not paint trees with wound dressing because it is no longer recommended. The latest research indicates that such dressings are primarily cosmetic and do not stop decay. In fact, if applied in a thick coat they can have the opposite effect.

Any tree-pruning program should follow basic horticultural principles. BGMU’s line clearance contractors adhere to the following approved arboricultural practices:

  • Removed branches are cut as close as possible to the branch collar without injury or removal of the collar, which is called Natural Targets Pruning. This procedure promotes wound closure and reduces the chance of decay.
  • Whenever possible, branches are cut back properly using the 1/3 rule: the branch is cut back to another branch that is at least 1/3 the diameter of the limb to which it is attached.
  • Limbs that grow away from wires are retained, allowing the outside portion of the tree to develop its natural shape. This is known as the directional method of line clearance.
  • Tree topping and shearing is avoided. Shearing detracts from the natural appearance and promotes decay in branches and the growth of weak, fast growing water sprouts. These sprouts grow back quickly and require frequent pruning.

Herbicides are used to control trees and brush under power lines so they remain accessible to maintenance and emergency repair crews. Herbicides control plant tops and roots, suppressing undesirable vegetation longer than periodic pruning. We use herbicides practically and carefully, avoiding gardens, flowers, and other plants important to the property owner.

Herbicides used in BGMU’s vegetation control program are extremely safe. These herbicides were scientifically designed and tested for years to meet Environmental Protection Agency standards. The U.S. EPA clears these products for use only after determining they will not adversely affect people, animals, or the environment when applied correctly. In fact, herbicides are often used to improve wildlife habitat and promote the growth of endangered plant species.

BGMU asks you to remember “Right Tree, Right Place” before planting trees. Trees grow to varying heights. Before planting, visualize the height of the tree you are planting after it matures in relation to nearby power lines. Also, for your safety, don’t plant large shrubs within 10 feet of utility poles or transformer boxes.

Mature Tree HeightDistance from Power Lines
25 feet or less 10 feet
25 to 50 feet35 feet
50 feet or more 45 feet

Aesthetic Questions

Several factors, including aesthetics, are considered when pruning a tree for line clearance. The following is a prioritized list:

  • Safety to the public, landowner, and utility workers
  • Service reliability to BGMU customers
  • Proper use of arbor pruning techniques
  • Aesthetics

Yes. With the written permission of the property owner, trees may be removed to avoid the need for future periodic trimming. Small “volunteer”, wild growing species trees or trees planted too close to lines are good candidates for removal. It is often not economically justifiable to remove large trees or trees not in the utility easement.

No. Shaping tends to be counterproductive when maintaining effective line clearance. We use natural pruning to direct tree growth away from power lines.

BGMU’s line clearance program is designed to minimize interruptions and hazards caused by trees. In order to meet public safety needs, as well as maintain reliability, proper clearance is necessary.

The amount of trimming required for line clearance depends on several factors:

  • Growth rate characteristics of the species (how fast new branches will grow back)
  • Flexibility of the branches nearest the wire (how much the branches sway in the wind)
  • Voltage carried by the line (the hazard presented by branch contact)