Frequently Asked Questions
Rights of Way
- Trees can disrupt power in a number of ways. For example, trees can grow into the electrical equipment or fall across power lines, causing outages.To provide reliable service, Duke Energy must prune or remove trees along the power lines. These practices are approved by internationally recognized tree care associations and are referred to as Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM).An IVM program evaluates vegetation and determines the best methods for maintenance and tree removal to ensure reliable service. Our program’s objective is to minimize tree-related power outages in a manner that is consistent with good arboricultural practices.
- Under certain conditions, trees and tree limbs can conduct power if they come in contact with power lines. If you see a fallen tree in contact with a power line, immediately contact Duke Energy. No one should climb trees that are in the vicinity of power lines. Serious injury or death may result from climbing a tree and making direct contact with or coming too close to an energized line.
If trees or tree limbs fall and tear down power lines, the downed power lines may still be energized while in the air or on the ground. If you see a downed line, always assume it is energized and stay away. Never touch or try to drive over a downed power line. If you see a downed line, immediately contact Duke Energy.
Duke Energy schedules periodic vegetation maintenance along power lines to minimize outages caused by trees in or near transmission and distribution rights of way. We also depend on help from the public. When people identify downed lines or trees touching power lines and act wisely, it minimizes the risk from trees contacting power lines.
- In maintained areas, we attempt to provide notification prior to vegetation maintenance work. Notification may be made via door hanger, telephone call, letter, in-person contact or a combination of these methods. A point of contact will be provided should you have questions or concerns about the upcoming vegetation work. If our attempts to notify you are unsuccessful, work will proceed without further direct notification.There are instances when a tree must be trimmed or removed without prior notification.
- Duke Energy trims trees to provide reliable service to our customers. Planned maintenance is prioritized by evaluating reliability data, field conditions and other specific information.There are instances when a tree must be trimmed or removed outside of planned maintenance.
- We do not “round” trees over because it contributes to poor tree health. We employ lateral and directional pruning methods endorsed by tree care professionals. The basis for proper pruning is that each limb removed from a tree is removed either where it joins another limb or at the trunk. These procedures are different than “rounding” of trees over in which limbs are cut at arbitrary points, normally leaving unhealthy “stub” cuts.
- Only line clearance qualified personnel should perform tree work around or adjacent to power lines and electrical equipment. Serious injuries and even fatalities have occurred when untrained individuals have done this work without the assistance of qualified professionals.Contact Duke Energy to request a representative to make evaluations of your request.
- The majority of our pruning and cutting occurs during planned maintenance. In maintained or landscape settings, our policy is to dispose of any small limbs and brush. The larger pieces of wood are cut to the length of firewood and stacked or consolidated at the edge of the right of way for the property owner's use or disposal. In non-landscaped sites, pruned vegetation and wood are left in place to biodegrade.When an “act of God” (such as lightning, ice storms, high winds, hurricanes, tornadoes) or other natural events cause trees or other vegetation to fall across power lines and damage facilities, we cut the trees and brush so poles and lines can be replaced and re-energized. Disposal of any wood, limbs or debris resulting from this type of emergency operation is the responsibility of the property owner.
- Duke Energy does not prune trees for light levels or pattern.
Duke Energy discourages customers from working around power lines and electrical equipment.
It's the responsibility of the property owner to maintain the growth of any trees interfering with the lighting pattern.
- Duke Energy uses environmentally responsible herbicide applications to control tall-growing incompatible plants within power line rights of way. Our objective is to promote low-growing vegetation to minimize potential electric power interruptions, which also enhances wildlife habitat. We use professional contractors to apply herbicide by utilizing different methods including foliar, stump, stem and vine applications. Duke Energy contractors have been trained on the proper, safe and environmentally responsible techniques of managing plant growth. All products used by Duke Energy are registered by the Environmental Protection Agency and approved by appropriate state agencies.
- Before you plant a tree or shrub, please make sure the location is out of the right of way of overhead power lines and away from underground power lines and other utilities. Call 811 before you dig.
For additional information please visit our Plan Before You Plant page.
- When selecting a tree or shrub to plant, it is just as important to consider what you plant as it is where you plant. The right tree or shrub, planted in the right place, can give you years of beauty and value without the potential dangers of getting too close to power lines.
Tree placement in relation to overhead power lines is critical in order to preserve the natural size, shape and overall integrity of the tree and protect the intent for which it was planted.
For information about planning and planting vegetation around electrical facilities please visit:
For additional information please visit our Plan Before You Plant page.
- Yes, Duke Energy’s rights of way in non-landscaped/unmaintained areas are initially mowed, making identification of compatible versus incompatible species impractical. Therefore, compatible versus incompatible species are subject to removal through mowing. However, after the non-landscaped/unmaintained area is mowed, follow-up herbicide applications are applied to the volunteer, woody vegetation that is incompatible within the rights of way. Compatible species are not targeted for herbicide application.
- Yes, there are special circumstances that may include: (1) the proper ANSI cut is not a specified distance from the centerline, (2) the trunk of a mature tree is established within rights of way, (3) the tree is inhabited by an endangered species, (4) the tree is a slow-growing species or (5) there is a Department of Transportation encroachment. In some locations, Duke Energy may have an easement of varying widths.
- Occasionally, a property owner will make the decision to conduct trimming or removals on their own or hire a third party. Pruning trees around power lines should only be attempted by qualified professionals. Serious injuries, and even fatalities, have occurred when unqualified individuals perform this type of work without the assistance of qualified professionals. As stated in the Occupational Safety and Health Authority (OSHA) standards and ANSI Z133, an unqualified person should not work within 10 feet of overhead power lines with voltages below 50,000 volts. The distance increases with voltage for all voltages equal to or higher than 50,000 volts.
- Duke Energy uses aerial application of herbicides in areas with high brush density and rough terrain and that are hard to access to control trees and other vegetation that can pose power outage threats. This tool is a safer and more effective alternative to sending crews on foot to perform backpack spraying in rough and mountainous terrain or hard-to-access areas, while also maintaining effective vegetation management along our power lines. Aerial maintenance applications can be completed much more quickly than manual spraying, reducing crew exposure to physical hazards in the right-of-way environment.
- Please visit our Tree Trimming Request webpage to first make sure a primary power line is affected by a tree or vegetation.
If the tree poses a risk to the reliability of primary power lines, a Vegetation Management professional will follow up with you within 10 business days. You will also receive automated digital communications (via text, email, voice) regarding the status of the work request.
If the tree is interfering with a power line located between a pole and the meter at your residence or business – known as the service line – the property owner has primary responsibility to keep these lines clear of trees and vegetation. If you (or a private contractor) are performing any work around your service line, please contact us to request the line be de-energized, at no cost, before completing any tree work. If vegetation is severely impacting the service line (tree or limb applying heavy pressure), you may submit a tree trimming request for a Duke Energy representative to evaluate.
- If trees or limbs have fallen onto power lines, we will dispatch crews to clear the vegetation from power lines and equipment.
- Trees are assessed on a case-by-case basis. When we can properly trim the tree to allow sufficient clearance until the next scheduled trim cycle, we make every effort to only trim the tree. However, if the tree poses a significant reliability risk or cannot be trimmed in a way that provides sufficient clearance until the next scheduled trim cycle while maintaining its health, the tree may be taken down.
- Typically, the property owner should make the request. However, anyone is encouraged to report unsafe conditions. Should you see a condition that is unsafe, please Contact Us to report the situation.
- There may be local nonprofits that will collect and distribute wood to those in need. You may also hire a company to remove the debris or contact your local public works to see if they remove yard debris.
- We attempt to notify individual customers in advance of trimming or taking down trees on their property by leaving detailed door hangers with contact information. With the exception of emergency situations, we attempt to ask permission of the property owner before taking down trees in maintained or landscaped areas.
- If an imminent threat to Duke Energy power lines exists, we prioritize and schedule the work based on the severity of the situation.
Asset Protection & Right of Way
- A right of way is a type of easement or agreement that grants a utility the right to use, access or transit a piece of property. An easement is typically granted by property owners to an electric utility for the purpose of constructing and maintaining power lines and other equipment. Before a power line is built, Duke Energy acquires easements from property owners along the selected route.
- If the structure is wooden, round or square concrete, or metal lattice tower or H-frame (a two-pole structure) and typically over 60 feet tall, it is a transmission structure.If the structure is wooden and 30 to 40 feet tall with or without transformers attached, it is typically a distribution pole. Distribution poles are typically the smaller poles seen following roads or property lines through subdivisions and have connections directly to homes or businesses.
- All Duke Energy transmission structure numbers are typically located three-quarters of the way up the pole or on one of the legs of the tower.
- Contact your local right of way asset protection specialist and refer to the Duke Energy Transmission Easement/Right of Way Use Guidelines.
- Transmission easement documents can be located in their respective county’s deeds and records department.
- You will receive a form of written authorization. The format of the written authorization will depend upon the specific requested use of a Duke Energy right of way.