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How to Help Trees and Tipmont Coexist

Although this was written on a March morning so cold the scraper came out of retirement, it’s officially spring. As we spend more time outdoors, our inclination turns toward beautification, and for some of our members, that means planting new trees on their property.

Trees and Tipmont power lines often peacefully coexist. Sometimes, they don’t play well together. More specifically in 2022, that was 12.7% of the time — the percentage of service outages caused by trees touching power lines. Trees that grow too close to electrical lines are the primary cause of momentary short circuits and flickering lights. And when it storms, limbs can knock out lines, and service, completely — necessitating intervention from our linemen.

Our right-of-way team and our maintenance partners do excellent work across our service territory. (In fact, you can read more about the latest accolades here.) But there are some considerations to contemplate when planting trees at your home that can help us out.

  • The taller a tree will become, the further it needs to be from overhead lines.
  • Always call 811 before you dig to plant a tree. Underground utility lines can be buried very close to the ground’s surface.
  • Consider height and width. What is the tree’s canopy spread? Will it come within 10 feet of power lines when fully grown?
  • Also consider growth rate and shape. Slow-growing trees are stronger and more resilient than fast-growing trees. Meanwhile, columnar trees grow in less space while round or V-shaped trees offer more shade.

For more tree-planting suggestions — including a handy guide based on small, medium and large tree types — visit tipmont.org/treetips.

Picture of Ron Holcomb

Ron Holcomb

Ron is a 30-year veteran of the electric utility industry with extensive experience in power supply, advanced grid technologies, essential service operations, economic development and value-driven growth initiatives for combined electric and telecommunication utilities. During his career, he has led three utilities as President/CEO and provided management consulting to utilities across the country. Ron joined Tipmont as CEO in summer 2013. He holds a B.S. in Physics from Austin Peay State University and an MBA from Murray State University.

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