How We Trim

Safeguarding Tree Health, Preserving Beauty

Our tree trimming program has been recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation for our high standards that prioritize tree health. Learn about our tree trimming standards and practices.

What We Trim

It's our goal to maintain healthy trees whenever we can, while also implementing an enhanced trim cycle to keep power lines clear. PSEG Long Island contractors are required to trim according to standards set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Best Management Practices defined by the International Society of Arboriculture.

Routine tree trimming is performed for two different levels of electric service: distribution and transmission.

Distribution Lines

Distribution lines are lower-voltage electric lines that deliver power from the electric substations to the homes and businesses in your community. These are the kinds of lines you're most likely to see in your community. Our service area is comprised of approximately 750 overhead distribution circuits extending over 13,000 miles or roadways and rear property. We use professional pruning standards and work a circuit from beginning to end, as this is the most effective way to ensure the line is clear from possible obstructions.

For distribution lines:

  • The goal is to create a larger buffer between the power lines and nearby trees to eliminate more potential outage threats.
  • We will prune trees to create clearance of 10 feet below power lines, eight feet on the sides, and 12 feet above.
  • We will prune trees to create clearance of three feet for secondary wires.


Diagram of Trimming Methods

Transmission Lines

Transmission lines are the higher-voltage wires, running on taller poles, that transport electricity from the source to local substations. They are the backbone of our electric system and require a greater clearance than distribution lines. Additionally, some of these lines are interconnected and provide regional reliability.

While some transmission lines run over Rights of Way land owned by the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), it is not uncommon for wires to run over properties for which PSEG Long Island has an easement to enter and maintain the lines. We prune 1,000 of miles of high-voltage transmission lines on a four-year cycle. Brush mowing of naturally growing vegetation occurs as well.

For transmission lines:

  • We prune trees to create a clearance of 18 feet from 23 kilovolt and 69 kilovolt wires, and 25 feet from 138 kilovolt wires.
  • We remove all overhanging limbs above the transmission lines no matter what distance they are from the conductors to ensure safe operation.

Tree diagram

Transmission Grounds Maintenance

While some Transmission wires run over Rights of Way owned by LIPA, it is not uncommon for wires to run over properties for which PSEG Long Island has an easement to enter and maintain the lines. PSEG Long Island regularly performs maintenance work on the utility’s property, and as-needed on Right of Way easements that are owned by others. This typically includes brush mowing of naturally growing vegetation every four to six years.

Lower down the utility pole, you'll often see fiber-optic cable, fire alarm wires, cable-TV wires, telephone lines, and the service lines to each customer’s home. We do not trim near these lower lines. The 40-inch safety zone from the secondary wires to the non-electric wires is in place to ensure the safety of the people who maintain those systems.

Trimming Methods

PSEG Long Island contractors are experienced tree professionals. They are specially trained to work within 10 feet of electric power lines, in accordance with OSHA standards, and other federal, state and local regulations. They perform pruning in two ways:

  • Lateral Pruning

    Each limb removed from a tree is removed either where it joins another limb or at the trunk, to limit the incidence of disease.

  • Directional Pruning

    Limbs growing towards electrical wires are removed in favor of those growing away from the wires. We cut a limb back to another limb (or lateral) so that future growth of the resulting limb is directed away from the power lines. Directional pruning actually removes fewer branches and increases wound closure, thereby reducing internal decay.

Tree diagram

Tree Removal

Our contractors may need to remove trees that are weak or at risk of falling onto power lines. Based on experience during Superstorm Sandy and other major storms, the majority of power interruptions are caused by entire or large portions of trees falling onto our power lines.

Tree Trim Debris Removal - What We Take

It's our responsibility to remove vegetative debris and wood chips from:

  • Planned, routine tree trim circuit work.
  • Planned removal of a hazardous condition.
  • Removal of a severely damaged or dangerous tree.

All debris is removed by the end of the day.

What We Do Not Take

  • Other debris that we find on the property.
  • Debris from the removal or trimming of a healthy tree that is within 10 feet of the primary and secondary wires that is removed for reasons unrelated to safety of the electrical system. This debris, including any debris that is lowered into a neighbor’s yard, is the responsibility of the owner of the property.
  • Debris resulting from storm or emergency work that is needed to restore service. Under emergency conditions (including storms, high winds, or other natural occurrences) we do not take debris. During emergencies, our first priority is the restoration of power and our crews must respond to all power outage situations as quickly as possible. Please contact your town in case they can be of assistance.