The Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Code mandates that if work or operating equipment comes within seven meters of an overhead power line the company must contact the supply authority to determine the voltage and establish the safe limit of approach distance as regulated by the Alberta Electrical Utility Code 2-014.

Hidden Guy Wire in trees

You never know just how well hidden a power line can be. Do you see the guy wire hidden in the foliage?

Alberta Municipal Affairs annually compiles a report that highlights Electrical Incidents in Alberta. The latest figures show that in 2020 there were 76 reported contacts with overhead power lines that involved the felling, brushing, or trimming of trees. (Note: These are reported incidents. Municipal Affairs acknowledges that the actual number is higher). Contact with a powerline has the potential to cause property damage, fire, injury, or death.

     Tree Hitting Power line causing a power outage
Members cutting branches and trees too close to power lines and not seeing the line can cause power disruptions.

There are several reasons why a landowner should not attempt to prune or fell trees that are touching or are near overhead powerlines:

  • Electricity will always seek the quickest path to the ground. This path can be through an object (tree or tool) or a human body by means of direct and in-direct contact.
  • The ground around a tree in contact with a powerline may be energized thus creating the opportunity for electrical shock.
  • Electricity can arc from a powerline to a nearby conductor, like a branch, ladder, chainsaw, pole top pruner, or other trimming equipment. That means it is unsafe to work on a tree close to an energized powerline even if the tree and equipment are not in direct contact with the line.

Broken tree on a power line causing an outage

Please note that even felling trees several meters from a powerline can pose an electrical hazard. Take note of the tree height and its distance from the line before you start to cut. If there is a chance that the tree or its branches will contact a powerline during felling, it is time to call your power provider.

Tree pruning, brushing, or removal near an overhead powerline is a job for trained Utility Arborists. If you are within the Battle River Power Coop’s service area, call the Vegetation Management Department at 1.877.428.3972 for assistance.


Vegetation Crew working
Battle River Power Coop Vegetation Management Crews working to keep our member’s power on!

Resources:

Informational Video: https://youtu.be/Rt-xWw_jbfQ