Tree Trimming FAQs

Q. What is “right-of-way”?
A. “Right-of-way” refers to the easements that are granted to SCE&G so that the company can service its power lines and other equipment. Essentially, you own the land, but the right-of-way allows SCE&G to construct and maintain transmission and distribution facilities in order to serve customers. There are two basic types of electric right-of-way:

Transmission right-of-way
Transmission lines carry electricity at high voltages from generating plants to substations. They also may carry electricity between substations. Along that journey, those lines travel across many parcels of property.

The amount of space occupied by lines on those parcels is defined by the easement document for that property. Transmission right-of-way corridors typically range in width from 50 feet to 500 feet.

Distribution right-of-way
Distribution lines carry electricity (lower voltages than transmission lines) from substations to residential, commercial and industrial customers. These are the lines that people typically see running along streets or in neighborhoods.

Distribution right-of-way corridors typically range in width from 20 to 50 feet.

Q. Why does SCE&G trim and cut trees and brush along power lines?
A. The Public Service Commission of SC recognizes the importance of SCE&G properly maintaining vegetation around its power lines and requires that such maintenance be performed. Vegetation of all kinds, including trees, brush and vines, can threaten your safety and the safety of SCE&G crews if they grow too close to power lines. In addition to safety, vegetation causes power outages and limits SCE&G’s access to its lines to make necessary repairs.

SCE&G regularly maintains vegetation along its power lines for safety and service reliability purposes. Serious injury or death can occur if energized lines are touched or if an object is touched that is in contact with line. If you have concerns about vegetation around the power lines, please contact an SCE&G customer service representative toll-free at 1-800-251-7234.

Q. What guidelines does SCE&G use when trimming trees?
A. SCE&G trims trees following the American National Standard for Tree Care Operations, ANSI A300. This standard is supported by the International Society of Arboriculture and has been adopted by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

Scientific research has proven that proper trimming means whole limbs are removed from trees, resulting in fewer cuts instead of numerous small cuts. Numerous small cuts make it difficult for the tree to heal, thus jeopardizing the tree’s overall health.

Also, ANSI A300 trimming typically results in trimming only limbs that are growing toward the power line. This trains the tree’s future growth away from the line, thereby helping to keep maintenance costs and future trimming to a minimum. Although the tree's appearance may be a bit unusual after the initial pruning, it will quickly improve with time and growing seasons.

SCE&G has certified arborists on staff to advise its contractors on how best to utilize ANSI A300 trimming. For more information on tree trimming and tree selection for your property, please see the following:

Trimming Techniques, Tips, and Utility Line Clearance (4.32 MB)

Q. Can I trim trees myself?
A. SCE&G employs trained professionals and contractors who must be OSHA certified to trim trees around power lines. Untrained individuals should not attempt to trim trees near power lines for risk of serious or fatal injury.  Approaching power lines is not only deadly, it`s against the law. According to Federal Regulations, you must have a minimum clearance of 10 feet when working near power lines.  If you are concerned about trees or vegetation growing too close to power lines, please contact an SCE&G customer service representative for an evaluation.

Q. Is SCE&G responsible for cleanup after trimming trees?
A. SCE&G does not clean up debris from dead trees or from debris resulting from storms; such debris is the property owner’s responsibility. SCE&G does clean up tree limbs and brush in yards following routine circuit maintenance. SCE&G generally leaves tree limbs and brush on right-of-way in non-yard settings; the debris is often mowed or cut up with saws but otherwise left to deteriorate. SCE&G does not leave debris in ditches or water ways.

Q. Will SCE&G remove or trim large trees growing over the service line to my residence/business?
A. As part of its regularly scheduled maintenance program, SCE&G trims limbs that vigorously rub against the service line running to homes and businesses. Limbs not vigorously rubbing against this wire will not be trimmed.

It’s also important to note that SCE&G does not cut down live or dead trees on the service line. SCE&G will disconnect the service line at no cost to allow property owner to safely remove such limbs or trees.

Q. How can I select and plant trees so that they won’t interfere with power lines?
One of the best ways to avoid situations where trees interfere with overhead power lines is to carefully select trees that will not grow into the power lines.

Along transmission line right-of-way, the planting of trees or shrubbery that mature at a height greater than 15 feet is not allowed.

Along distribution line right-of-way, small trees with mature heights no greater than 20 feet may be planted as long as they are along streets and roadways that allow our trucks to access them. Trees should not be planted in right-of-way that is inaccessible for our trucks, such as back-lot areas. Also, trees should not be planted directly under the service line that runs from the pole to your home or business. For a list of trees to plant in acceptable distribution right-of-way, please see the following:

 Trees and Power Lines (377 KB)

Also along distribution right-of-way, large trees with mature heights of greater than 50 feet should be planted at least 40 feet from power lines and 35 feet from your house. Medium trees ranging from 25 to 50 feet in height should be kept approximately 30 feet from power lines and 25 feet from your house. For more information on tree trimming and selection, please see the following:

Q. How much will be cut from my trees?
A. A minimum of 20 feet is trimmed above the distribution power line, while a minimum of 10 feet is trimmed to the side and below distribution wires. These distances provide the necessary clearance to safely operate the lines and reduce the chance of rain, wind or ice pushing or breaking limbs into the lines.

Q. Will SCE&G “shape” my trees to give them an “evenly shaped” appearance?
A. ANSI A300 trimming only removes limbs growing toward the lines or other service equipment. SCE&G does not remove limbs that are growing away from the wire in order to give the tree a particular shape.

Shaping or “rounding over” of trees can actually be very unhealthy for the tree by leaving stubs that can result in decay.

Q. Why does SCE&G spray brush on right-of-ways?
A. Tall growing trees or brush in right-of-way that does not cross the yards of property owners is often mowed or cut and allowed to re-grow to a height of 3 to 6 feet. After one growing season, the brush is typically treated with herbicides to eliminate it from the right of way and convert the right of way to a grass-forb-herb cover type.

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