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Vegetation Management Methods

To maintain reliable service and minimize outages, it is important that we maintain trees and other vegetation along the lines that deliver electricity to our customers.

In Florida, Duke Energy hires qualified, trained tree experts to inspect and clear vegetation that poses a threat to our electric lines. Our integrated approach to managing rights of way includes:

  • Planned tree pruning or tree removal
  • Hot spot pruning – trimming vegetation with a high or demonstrated risk of interference with lines
  • Danger tree removal – removing trees inside or outside the right of way that are at risk of falling on or otherwise threatening a line, as defined in the easement agreement
  • Mowing – maintaining the floor of the right of way
  • Aerial trimming – using helicopters to trim trees along power lines in rural areas
  • Tree growth regulators – chemically limiting the directional growth of a tree so that we don’t have to remove it; used for trees near distribution lines only
  • Herbicide application

Trimming practices vary based on the voltage and type of line, as well as the type of tree and its proximity to the line. In some cases, the tree may need to be removed to ensure the safe and reliable operation of the line.

There are a variety of factors that determine whether or not a tree must be trimmed or removed.

The methods used and scope of work are determined by a number of factors, including:

  • Voltage of the line being trimmed
  • Width and location of the right of way
  • Type, mature height and compatibility of vegetation in and around the right of way
  • Federal, state and local requirements that govern vegetation management
  • Proximity to environmentally sensitive areas
  • Type of construction (transmission lines only)

Directional Pruning

In Florida, Duke Energy uses a technique called directional pruning to maintain tree health while establishing acceptable clearance between energized wires and tree branches. This pruning technique was developed by the Tree Care Industry Association, approved by the American National Standard Institute (ANSI), adopted by the pruning industry as its standard, and endorsed by the National Arbor Day Foundation and the International Society of Arboriculture.


Herbicide use is a standard practice used by electric utilities, as well as agricultural and landscape management companies, state departments of transportation, railroads, forest services, the military, municipalities, golf courses, airports, schools and universities and property owners.

Duke Energy uses federally and state-registered land and aquatic herbicides in accordance with the product labels to control re-growth of woody vegetation and brush in rights of way that have been recently mowed. We have easements that allow us to manage vegetation along and within our rights of way. Customers such as organic farmers, or others with concerns, can contact Duke Energy toll-free at 800-700-8744 and ask to speak with a local tree coordinator.

As a regulated public utility, Duke Energy must balance the needs of our 1.6 million customers with the need to control costs and ensure safety and reliability.