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Tree Trimming

Columbia REA routinely trims trees throughout its service area that are near overhead lines or pad-mounted underground equipment. Tree trimming is temporary and expensive; therefore, removal of undesirable trees is an important part of Columbia REA’s overall tree maintenance program. Right-of-way maintenance and tree removal eliminates hazardous conditions, improves access to facilities, and reduces future costs and potential outages. Selective tree removal will be pursued whenever feasible. 

Current tree trimming letter

Tree Removal Candidates

  1. Trees located at homes, schools, parks, businesses, or other areas, which children may climb easily that are near overhead conductors.
  2. Fast growing trees that interfere with overhead conductors.
  3. Volunteer trees, which will eventually interfere with overhead conductors.
  4. Immature trees that are not presently interfering with overhead conductors, but will at their mature height.
  5. Dead, dying, diseased, and unstable trees that have the probability of falling and contacting overhead conductors.
  6. Trees that require extensive drop-crotch trimming.
  7. Trees or bushes that impede access to pad-mounted underground equipment.

Tree Replacement Guidelines

If the landowner agrees to let Columbia REA or its authorized contractor remove a tree interfering with overhead or underground power lines, the landowner is eligible to receive a check for up to $50 per replacement tree with a maximum of $300 per landowner. The refund will be based on actual costs for a replacement tree and will not include any costs incurred for planting the replacement tree. The refund program applies only to ornamental landscape trees on commercial and residential properties.

If replacement tree(s) are to be planted near overhead or underground power lines the following guidelines must be met:

  1. The tree must be on the Columbia REA Utility Approved Tree list.
  2. Pre-approval must be received for all trees not specified on the approved utility friendly replacement tree list to be considered for the refund. The Cooperative must be supplied with the species of tree and its expected size and growth habits and where it will be purchased.
  3. The tree must be planted to avoid future interference with Columbia REA overhead lines or underground equipment. For example, a tree with a mature canopy 30 feet wide should be planted at least 25 feet from overhead electrical lines. Dividing the mature width of 30 feet by 2 and adding 10 feet for required clearance determines the distance from the overhead lines.
  4. No replacement tree will be planted under overhead power lines or within 10 feet from its centerline.
  5. Underground equipment should have at least 10 feet of clearance from the door side of transformers or switchgear.
  6. No tree will be planted directly over underground cable.

Request for Rebate

  1. To request a rebate, obtain permission from the landowner to have the tree removed by Columbia REA or the authorized contractor.
  2. Meet the requirements for planting the replacement tree.
  3. Fill out a rebate request form with the following attached:
    1. A copy of the receipt listing the species of tree purchased
    2. Total cost of the tree
    3. Name of the nursery from which the tree was purchased
    4. A drawing showing the location where the tree was planted.

Upon receiving the request, Columbia REA will verify that a tree removal permission form was signed and that the species of tree is acceptable. The location of the tree will also be confirmed to make sure the planting requirements for the program have been met. Once all conditions have been verified, the refund check will be issued to the landowner.

Utility Approved Trees

The trees on the Utility Approved Tree list were selected for average and low maintenance, general insect and disease resistance and beauty. The sizes listed represent the average mature size depending on their specific genetics, the site, and environmental factors. Many common shade trees are not listed because they grow too large and do not fit well in restricted locations. Other trees may be acceptable, but remember to select a tree species that at maturity will not outgrow its location. Be sure the trunk and branches will not reach within 10 feet of overhead conductors when fully grown. For a complete description of trees and planting guidelines contact the Arbor Day Foundation.

Trees to Avoid

The following list of trees is not recommended for planting near utility lines or on small lots. Reasons vary but include, consistent limb loss in storms, excessive level of growth, a history of breaking pavement, spreading by suckers, excess or messy seed or fruit drop. A few are suitable for rural settings when the tree is far removed from utility lines and buildings.

  • Box Elder, Acer Negundo
  • Silver Maple, Acer Saccharinum
  • Tree of Heaven, Ailanthus Altissima
  • Catalpa, Catalpa Speciosa
  • Russian Olive, Elaeagnus Angustifolia
  • American Sycamore, Platanus Occidentalis
  • Cottonwoods & Poplars, Populus Species
  • Black Locust, Robinia Pseudoacacia
  • Weeping Willow, Salix Species
  • Elms, Ulmus Species


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