SALEM Trees can be trimmed near lines

One common beef about the trimming is that it leaves trees looking scalped.
SALEM -- Don't get too attached to the deep shade provided by the stately oak or maple growing in your front yard, especially if its branches are near utility lines.
Utility companies have the right to trim trees growing in or near a public right of way, even if it's also part of someone's front yard.
Companies exercise that right to ensure safety and system reliability, said Ellen Raines, an Ohio Edison spokeswoman.
Raines noted that tree-trimming crews hired by Edison are out in the area now, pruning wayward branches away from lines.
The same limbs that offer refreshing shade and give an aesthetically pleasing shape to a tree also can provoke power interruptions that put neighborhoods in the dark for hours.
Power outages: Tree limbs growing too close to power lines cause outages when high winds, snow or ice cause branches to come into contact with the cables, Raines explained.
Branches are a primary cause of outages, she added.
Safety is another reason trees near utility lines are kept trimmed.
Edison tries to ensure that limbs aren't close enough to a line that someone can climb a tree and reach the cable. Children are particularly prone to try such a dangerous stunt, Raines said.
Despite the need to trim trees and utility companies' right to do so, property owners sometimes complain.
Complaints: One common beef is aesthetics. "They don't like the way the trees look [afterward]," Raines said.
She added that Edison understands that concern and keeps a tree's appearance in mind when trimming.
"We understand the aesthetic value of a big tree," she said. "We understand everyone feels attached to the beautiful trees in their yard. But our primary responsibility needs to be the reliability of the system and safety."
Another complaint is that some tree-trimmers do shoddy work. People complain that they split off branches, strip bark and do other things that can blemish a tree.
Raines said Edison expects the tree-trimming companies it hires to work to high standards.
"If there's a job that's done wrong, we want to know about it," Raines said.
She urged anyone with a complaint about work quality to contact their local Edison office.
Crews trim trees on a four-year cycle. The amount of growth pruned depends partly on the species of tree and its growth rate. Faster-growing species may be trimmed more aggressively than slower-growing ones, she said.

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