SDG&E prunes trees for public safety, to prevent outages and fires and to maintain compliance with state and federal laws. SDG&E is mandated by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to maintain minimum clearance requirements near power lines based on CPUC General Order 95, Rule 35, and Public Resources Code (PRC), Section 4293.
Based on the current clearance from the conductors and the expected growth rate, your neighbor’s tree may not require pruning for the current cycle. Also, your neighbor’s tree may only be encroaching the phone and cable lines, not high-voltage lines.
Generally, only high-voltage primary conductors (750 volts and greater) are cleared of vegetation. These are the lines at the top of the power pole and are marked “High Voltage” on the cross arm. Secondary voltage conductors (<750 volts) are cleared to avoid strain or abrasion of the lines.
Relocating or undergrounding power lines and other SDG&E facilities is not a requirement in order to maintain compliance. Undergrounding electrical facilities is very expensive. A power outage on an underground conductor can last longer and be more difficult to repair than overhead lines.
Additionally, the amount of trenching required to underground facilities may be more detrimental to a tree than continued pruning. If requested to avoid tree pruning, the cost of undergrounding, if approved, is the responsibility of the customer.
The tree is pruned to ensure safe, reliable and cost-effective service to our customers and to comply with applicable laws and regulations. SDG&E prunes to maintain the minimum clearance requirement for at least one year.
SDG&E prunes for compliance, not aesthetics. SDG&E prunes according to industry standards as endorsed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Society of Arboriculture, taking into account the health of the tree and the clearance required.
These are lower voltage telecommunication conductors (phone and cable) positioned below SDG&E facilities on the power pole. These facilities do not require the same stringent clearances required of high-voltage conductors. Also, SDG&E does not maintain other utilities’ facilities.
Any tree pruning done around SDG&E power lines must be done by a line-clearance-qualified arborist as defined by the federal and state Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and SDG&E. The California Penal Code also makes it illegal for unauthorized persons to work within six feet of high voltage conductors.
The service drop is a low-voltage conductor running from the utility pole to your house or business. SDG&E does not typically prune for service drops unless there is heavy strain or abrasion.
A customer can have their service drop de-energized by calling SDG&E at 800-411-7343. There is no expense to the customer for this service, but the de-energizing must be scheduled 15 days in advance of any work to be done by the customer.
This determination is based on the species of the tree and growth rate as well as the location of the tree in relation to the SDG&E power lines. A tree is pruned to hold compliance for at least one year. Greater clearances allow the pruning cycle to be extended.