Trees are a valuable addition to farms, acreages and yards. Shelterbelts protect fields from erosion and shelter homes from hot summer sun and cold winter winds. Trees are home to birds and wildlife and preserve ecosystems. They add beauty to the landscape. Rural Albertans place a high value on trees, just as they place a high value on electricity.

Electricity is essential to farms, acreages, homes and businesses. It pumps water, lights homes, barns and businesses and runs tools and appliances. We are so accustomed to electricity that we often take it for granted- unless it stops working. Trees located too close to power lines cause problems with electricity. High winds can bring nearby branches and/or limbs into contact with the line and cause power flickers. Outages can occur when trees or branches break and fall on the line. Vegetation that has made contact with the powerlines becomes a safety hazard as electricity can travel through tree limbs and energize the nearby ground.

Trees are valuable, and electricity is a necessity. The best way to ensure that trees and electricity co-exist with minimal conflict is to plant with care. This fall, if you are contemplating a new shelterbelt or landscape trees, include the power line in your plans. Local nusreries will be able to give you information about varieties suitable for your purpose, and Alberta Agriculture and Forestry has a comprehensive list of Shelterbelt Varieties for Alberta that includes the mature dimensions of popular cultivars.

In the interest of safety and your own reliable electricity, visualize the mature size of your selected trees and plant large species at least 9 meters from the line. Shelterbelts, landscape trees and the power line can co-exist. Leave room for the line when you plant.