A virtual pre-hearing to take comments on Delmarva Power’s request to adjust rates (Case No. 9670) for the distribution of electric energy will be held on Oct. 4, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. Written comments on these matters may be submitted electronically at firstname.lastname@example.org or by first-class mail to A. Johnston Executive Secretary MPSC, 6 St. Paul St., Baltimore MD 21202, by Oct. 1, 2021.
What is Delmarva Power's objective to repeatedly pruning trees?
Delmarva Power is committed to providing customers with reliable electric service. Tree branches that contact power lines can cause interruptions to power supply. These interruptions, aside from being inconvenient, also pose a threat to public health and safety. For example, power supply interruptions affect those on life support, and may disrupt schools, hospitals, traffic signals, and sewer and water pumping facilities.
Vegetation Management's program is designed to minimize such service interruptions by clearing limbs, trees, vines, and other vegetation away from power lines. By doing this before the vegetation has a chance to cause power supply interruptions, we can help assure you reliable electric service.
Why don't you consider aesthetics when pruning trees?
Delmarva Power follows the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standard A300, part 1, when pruning trees. Several factors are considered when pruning a tree for line clearance. The following is a prioritized list of the factors considered when performing utility line clearance work:
Can you prune my tree lightly?
In general, smaller or slower growing trees will require less pruning than faster of taller growing trees. Delmarva Power encourages customers to “Plant the Right Tree in the Right Place”, to minimize conflicts with electrical facilities. The amount of pruning required for line clearance depends on several factors:
Growth rate characteristics of the species (how fast new branches will grow back).Flexibility of the branch nearest the wire (how much the branch will sway in the wind)Voltage carried by the line (the hazard presented by branch contact).
Does Delmarva Power maintain vegetation for telephone and cable television lines?
No. However, you can contact your local communication provider for further information.
What qualifications do you have to prune trees?
Delmarva Power vegetation management crews are specially trained, according to OSHA Regulations and ANSI Standards, in order to safely work on trees close to electrical conductors.Delmarva Power also requires that line clearance specialists be trained in proper arboricultural pruning techniques, which follow the professional standards (ANSI Standard A300, part 1), and the best management practices published by the International Society of Arboriculture.
Is there an alternative to repeated tree pruning, which sometimes results in a disfigured appearance?
Yes. The property owner may want to have trees removed to avoid the need for future periodic pruning. Small "volunteer" trees or trees inappropriately planted too close to lines are good candidates for removal. Delmarva Power will be happy to review possible candidates on a case by case basis.
Do you paint open pruning cuts?
Delmarva Power's contract crews do not use commercial tree paint products because these are no longer recommended in the arboriculture industry. The latest research indicates that such dressings are primarily cosmetic and do not stop decay.
Why do you prune the trees back so far?
Delmarva Power's vegetation management program is designed to minimize interruptions to electrical supply. The closer a tree grows to a high voltage line, the greater amount of pruning required to maintain a minimum clearance between the tree and the power wires. The amount of pruning required varies based on line voltage, line construction, and tree species.
Will pruning hurt my tree?
Delmarva Poweruses only professional contractors and requires that they follow American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standard A300 for tree pruning. These pruning techniques minimize the potential damage caused to trees. Pruning of trees in rights-of-ways is done not only by utilities, but also by municipalities and highway departments to maintain roadway clearance, sidewalk clearance, visibility of road signs, traffic lights, etc.
Any tree-pruning program, including those carried out by utilities, municipalities, or homeowners, should follow the same basic principles. Delmarva Power's vegetation management contractors adhere to the following practices that are contained in ANSI Standard A300:
Removed branches are cut as close as possible to the branch collar without injury or removal of the collar, which is called Natural Target Pruning. This procedure helps promote wound closure and reduce chances for 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 the wires are retained, allowing the outside portion of the tree to develop its natural shape. This is known as 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 or sucker growth. These sprouts grow back more quickly and require more frequent pruning
Why can't I prune my own tree or have a private contractor prune it?
The pruning of trees near electrical wires can result in injury or death. Only persons trained and qualified in the special techniques needed to work safely around energized lines should do so.
Why doesn't Delmarva Power put the lines underground?
Despite being extremely expensive, and sometimes costing several times more than overhead construction, an underground line is not problem-free for trees. During construction tree roots may be cut. Cutting tree roots can lead to tree decline or death or may cause a tree to uproot in high winds. Future maintenance of underground lines may also cause damage to existing tree roots, landscape plantings, and lawns.
Are the herbicides that Delmarva Power uses safe?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approves these products for use only after determining they will not adversely affect people, animals, or the environment when applied correctly.
Does Delmarva Power Plant Trees?
Delmarva Power participates in National Arbor Day tree planting events each year.
How do trees affect electric service to customers?
The majority of outages during inclement weather are caused by falling or damaged trees. Limbs, branches and weak or diseased trees can bring down wires if they fall in any kind of weather. In fact, trees and falling limbs are the top causes of unscheduled outages on clear days as well. Electrical service can be interrupted for thousands of customers due to a fallen limb that damages a power line. An effective, responsible tree maintenance program is critical to our successful and safe delivery of electric service. The tree trimming and removal work we perform is required by regulations that mandate minimum clearances between trees and power lines.
What safety issues arise from trees near power lines?
We implement our tree maintenance program because safety is one of our top priorities. When trees come in contact with a high voltage power line, they can also become energized which could potentially result in sparks or fires that could cause harm to people, animals, homes or buildings. Our tree maintenance program reduces risk and minimizes outages caused by falling trees, branches or limbs, and improves the reliability and safety of your electric service. By trimming and removing trees around power lines, we can reduce the chance of trees, branches or limbs falling on power lines.
Why are small trees removed that are not close to touching power lines?
It depends on the type of trees but some species can grow up to eight to ten feet in a year. It is important to proactively remove them before they cause damage to the system or a safety risk. Certified arborists review each tree to determine what action, if any, is necessary.
Are industry or legal standards followed?
Our tree pruning is performed adhering to the standards and practices outlined by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Publication, A300, and the Maryland Tree Expert law. The ANSI standard is followed by nearly all electric utilities in the United States. We also work with the DC Department of Transportation, Urban Forestry Administration and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to comply with their tree-pruning practices.
What regulatory body oversees each utility's tree maintenance program?
The Public Service Commission oversees our tree maintenance work.
What is Maryland Rule Making No. 43 (RM 43)?
Rule Making No. 43 refers
to the vegetation management regulations adopted by the Maryland Public Service
Commission (PSC) to increase reliability. RM 43 requires utilities to be more
comprehensive in their tree trimming around electric facilities including power
lines, poles, transformers, substations and rights of way. The vegetation
management standards, which took effect in 2012, were developed by a panel that
included representatives from consumer advocacy groups, the PSC, the Office of People's Counsel,
Montgomery County, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and power
utilities serving customers in Maryland. We immediately made changes to our
practice in order to comply with the new regulations, which include pruning to
a four-year growth cycle next to and under most power lines. High-voltage lines
will require clearances of 15 feet below and beside lines and "blue
sky" clearance above, which means that there must be total clearance above
the line. Under the regulation, we are required to notify owners or occupants
at least seven and no more than 120 days before we plan to begin work on the
circuit that serves them. If it is necessary to remove more than 25
percent of a tree’s crown to meet clearance specifications, arborists
acknowledge the health and structural integrity of a tree are likely
permanently compromised and the tree is removed. This is consistent with
standards and practices outlined by the American National Standards Institute
(ANSI) A300. ANSI A300 is incorporated into laws and regulations that apply to
vegetation management, including the Maryland Tree Expert Law and RM43.
How often will trees on my property be pruned or removed?
Trimming cycles are dictated by states. Our cycle in Maryland and Delaware is based on a four-year rotation, meaning that approximately one quarter of the public space trees are maintained each year. Each tree's size, shape and growth rate are taken into consideration in our tree maintenance program. Maintenance may include pruning or removing branches that are too close to power lines or, in some cases, removal of entire trees.
How much will be trimmed from trees?
The amount of pruning or trimming varies based on a tree's relative location to the power lines as well as the type, growth habits and health of the tree. Maryland regulations set clearances based upon the voltage of an electric utility's equipment. The following diagrams illustrate examples of minimum tree clearance required for certain facilities.
How often is tree work performed?
Our tree maintenance program is consistent with electric utility best practices and complies with national tree care industry and utility vegetation management standards. RM43 specifically mandates that we use a four-year-growth clearance schedule in our Maryland service area. Our tree pruning contractor trims, and in some cases removes, trees that could potentially come in contact with power lines or other electrical equipment. Certified arborists evaluate tree growth around each pole in order to create an effective work plan for tree crews. They look for trees and vines that could eventually develop a conflict with the electric equipment. They also look for dead, dying or hazardous trees and tree conditions that could interfere with power lines and cause power outages.
Customers will receive at least one form of notification depending on the scope of the work. Notifications vary and could include letters, door hangers and knocks on the door. If a tree poses an imminent safety hazard or impact to the reliability of the electrical system, we will take reasonable steps to obtain consent from the owner or occupant of the property before any trimming or tree removal work is done. The safety of our customers and employees are most important.
How is it determined whether a tree must be removed or pruned?
Each tree is examined individually by certified arborists and the determination is made based on a variety of factors including the species, type of energized facility, the direction branches are growing and how much of the tree must be pruned. RM43 regulations have altered some of our previous practices in that some trees we would not have pruned in the past now have to be trimmed or removed in order for us to comply with clearance specifications established in the regulations. If it is necessary to remove more than 25 percent of a tree's crown to meet clearance specifications, arborists acknowledge the health and structural integrity of a tree are likely permanently compromised and the tree is removed. This is consistent with standards and practices outlined by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A300. ANSI A300 is incorporated into laws and regulations that apply to vegetation management, including the Maryland Tree Expert Law and RM43.
Who performs the company’s tree work?
We have a large staff of trained foresters and certified arborists who oversee the work of our contractors. Our contractors are required to adhere to tree care standards established by American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A-300. Our methodologies are based on Best Management Practices (BMPs) established by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). Utility vegetation management arborists are required to abide by Safety Standards set in ANSI Z133 and they are regulated by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).
What is an easement?
According to Black's Law Dictionary, an easement is a right of use over the property of another.
Can I choose to not permit trimming or removal of trees on my property?
We will make all reasonable efforts to work with you before trimming or removing trees on your property and/or our easement. An effective tree maintenance program is critical to our safe and reliable delivery of your electric service. We trim and remove trees that will grow into or interfere with electric wires and other equipment. If we have an easement to perform the work on your property, we will work with you as best we can but our obligation under RM43 is to obtain the required clearances.
Will new trees be planted in the right-of-way to replace ones that are removed?
Not usually, however, there are times when we do plant trees in the right-of-way. Sometimes it is the result of a permit requirement and other times it is at the request of local or county department of transportation.
Isn’t the tree in front of my house my property?
Sometimes trees that appear to be on a customer's property could be in the public utility easement or public right-of-way. If a tree is in the public right-of-way, we work with the owner of that right-of-way to trim or remove the tree. If a tree on private property needs to be removed, the property owner's permission must be obtained, unless we have pre-existing rights to remove the tree. We will trim trees on private property where tree limbs or branches could threaten the safety and reliability of the system. Please call 1-800-375-7117 if you have additional questions or concerns.
What are my rights when trees need to be trimmed or removed from my property?
If a tree on private property needs to be removed, the property owner's permission must be obtained unless we have pre-existing rights that give us rights to maintain those properties and keep them clear of trees and vegetation that could threaten the safety and reliability of the system. We will trim trees on private property where tree limbs or branches could threaten the safety and reliability of the system. Please call 1-800-375-7117 if you have additional questions or concerns.
Can I request tree work on my property that threatens power lines?
We will investigate requests for removal of tree limbs that may endanger our power lines. Our contractor's inspectors will explain to the property owner if any tree work is needed and if so, whether the tree needs to be trimmed or removed. Please call 1-800-375-7117 with any questions or concerns.