You love your trees. We do, too.
Trees are a precious resource that we work hard to protect. We also must continually safeguard the integrity of our electrical and natural gas systems to ensure you have reliable energy.
Trees and limbs that grow into or fall on power lines can cause outages, fires and serious accidents. Tree roots can damage underground lines, too. Both situations are a hazard to people and property and may interrupt essential community services.
My name is Ben Kappen. I'm the Vegetation Management Program Administrator here at Avista. Vegetation management entails anything that has to be done with trees that are in the power lines. It includes inspecting the lines for hazard trees. These are trees that would potentially pose a fall-in risk or a grow-in risk and could cause a fire or an outage. We have a responsibility to maintain reliable energy source to our customers. We often encounter trees that we're going to have to revisit more frequently than our five year trim cycle.
When we see those types of trees, we work with the customer with what we call a Right Tree Right Place Program. We can help them to select a smaller growing ornamental species, something that may be flowering or really pretty, to put in their yard that we won't have to come back and spend time and resources maintaining that tree and keeping it out of the power lines. We're here at a local nursery today and just going to talk a little bit about some of the attributes of the types of trees that are utility compatible, things like our flowering dogwoods, crab apples, redbud trees.
Really, what we're looking at is trees that are in what we would determine to be the small tree zone need to really remain under about 25 feet in height. We require that we have one certified arborist on each of our tree crews overseeing the work that's being done. The benefit to the customer is that really ensures the work that we're doing is to industry standard, and even though we may be pruning for utility clearance, that we're doing our best to keep your tree healthy and safe. Whether it's routine trimming or risk tree removal, we're making sure that the power's going to remain on.
With your help, our vegetation management program aims to maintain trees near power lines to reduce tree-related power outages.
Frequently asked questions
Still have questions? Get your answers here.
What to expect
No. Avista’s routine tree maintenance and risk tree mitigation programs, service wire drop option, and Cycle Buster Replacement program are all offered to our customers at no cost.
Our tree trimming standards are set forth by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Best Management Practices Manuals and the American National Standards Institute ANSI A300 Utility Pruning Standards and are more focused on safety than appearance.
Our contract tree crews are supervised by International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Certified Arborists. Contractors trim trees away from electrical wires using directional pruning techniques.
Directional pruning concentrates on removing limbs to reduce the speed of regrowth by directing it away from power lines. It also retains as much of the natural tree crown as possible. This method is healthier than older obsolete “topping” or “shaping” trimming methods.
Yes. Our team is highly skilled, earning recognition for the last eight consecutive years as an Arbor Day Foundation Tree Line USA utility.
All contract tree crews are supervised by International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certified arborists who have the skill and knowledge to make the proper cuts on your tree.
Contractors trim trees away from electrical wires using directional pruning techniques recommended by the ISA and the American National Standards Institute ANSI A300 – Utility Pruning Standards.
Along with our contractors, we trim around our transmission and distribution lines.
Although we allow other utilities (telecommunications, cable tv, telephone) to use our poles, we do not trim around their equipment.
Avista does not prune vegetation around the service wire, which runs from a nearby pole to a home or business. This is the homeowner’s responsibility to maintain and prune the vegetation that have entangled in or is encroaching upon this wire. Customers who need to trim for this wire can request a no-cost service drop from us by calling (800) 227-9187. A service drop de-energizes the line and temporarily removes it so the customer or their contractor can safely perform the work. Service drops are available Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Customers interested should contact us at least three business days in advance.
Risk tree mitigation identifies and removes visibly dead, diseased, dying or unstable trees near power lines. Trees removed as part of this approach pose an imminent safety or reliability threat to our customers. Trees encroaching on a 10-foot clearance of our distribution and transmission lines are addressed. If tree removal is necessary, property owners will receive a postcard notification before acting.
Avista does not clean up debris when work is requested by the homeowner and not part of our routine tree maintenance program.
Routine Tree Maintenance: Trimmed branches and debris will be chipped on-site and left for the property owner. Materials too large for the chipper will be piled for the property owner to address.
Risk Tree Mitigation: Trimmings and debris are left as-is for the property owner to handle. No clean-up is provided as the purpose of this program is to immediately improve customer and property safety while reducing risks such as fire.
Storm damage: Property owners are responsible for all trimming and debris clean up resulting from weather and/or storm events. During events like these, our crews are focused on immediate risk mitigation to allow for safe service restoration.
Service wire/service drop: Homeowners are responsible for coordinating all clean up related to work performed on vegetation in or near their service wire.
Tree pruning in your neighborhood
As our contract partners, Consulting Utility Foresters (CNUC) begin identifying areas in need of work. Customers with property that will be impacted will be notified via postcard or door hanger.
Contract tree crews typically begin work within 2-3 weeks of the postcard mailing. Crews may remain in your area for several months to complete all necessary work.
Avista contracts with Consulting Utility Foresters (CNUC) and Asplundh Tree Expert Co. for tree trimming and removal. CNUC contractors drive small white pickup trucks. Asplundh contractors drive orange or white full-size pickups or large dump box trucks.
All contract employees carry an Avista photo ID badge. All contract vehicles should have a visible ‘under contract to Avista’ decal.
Property owners can take wood left behind on their property.
Anyone else must ask the property owner for permission to take leftover wood. Avista and our contract crews cannot grant this permission.
To be placed on the wood chip delivery list, please call Avista at (800) 227-9187 to leave your location and contact information. Chips will be delivered when crews are working in your neighborhood. A tree crew foreman will call to confirm your request prior to delivery of any chips.
Wood chips are available only while the tree crews are in your area. The minimum delivered load is 8 cubic yards. These wood chips are not high-grade landscaping material but are excellent as mulch and weed control. They are also used for playgrounds and walking trails.
Planting the right tree in the right place can eliminate the need for Avista to trim or remove a tree that is too close to power lines. Tree roots will spread out at least as wide as the tree is tall, which is important to protecting underground electric and natural gas lines.
Avista’s vegetation management program is a proactive, strategic approach to tree-related risk mitigation. We aim to reduce tree-related power outages by partnering with our customers to maintain trees near power lines. Healthy maintained trees preserve the safety of our customers and their properties, as well as the safety of our employees and infrastructure.
Being proactive reduces the frequency and duration of tree-related outages, and preserves the safety of our customers, their property and our line service crews working in the field.
Please contact us at (800) 227-9187 to schedule a site visit with one of our contracted CNUC forester to further discuss vegetation assessment.
Customers with crews working in their neighborhood may speak to the on-site crew foreman (white hard hat), if available, to request their tree be skipped until a site visit with a CNUC forester is completed. For your safety, please remember to stay well outside of the crew’s work zone.
No. State and federal laws regulate tree maintenance. Avista does not interpret these laws for our customers or private contractors.
Laws and regulations include ANSI Z133.1, OSHA 1910, WAC 296-45 and Idaho’s Overhead Line Safety Act.
Avista enters into formal agreements with certified power line clearance contractors to trim trees and clear rights of way corridors throughout our service territory to ensure the safety, reliability and integrity of our electric and high-pressure gas pipeline facilities.
Information and tips on how to hire an arborist can be found at:
- Pacific Northwest Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture
- International Society of Arboriculture
- County Extension Offices
- City Parks Departments