Why it's Necessary
Nova Scotia’s electrical grid is made up of over 31,800 km of transmission and distribution lines throughout the province. In many cases, power line rights-of-way run along roadways lined with trees or through heavily forested areas. Trees are a big part of why Nova Scotia is such a beautiful place to live, but when left unattended they can interfere with power lines. Tree contacts are the single largest cause of power outages in the province.
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Like other electric utilities, NS Power manages an annual vegetation management program to help maintain the reliability of power lines across the province and ensure the public and our field employees stay safe. Each year, our professional foresters identify necessary work areas throughout the province and use a combination of methods to prevent trees that are in and adjacent to the rights-of-way from growing in close proximity to power lines.
Forest Technicians assess every work area to determine the best approach to managing tree growth. Options in rural areas include manually trimming tree branches and other higher growing vegetation adjacent to the right-of-way, manually or mechanically removing trees in the right-of-way and where possible, manually-applying herbicides selectively on shorter trees and stumps to restrict tree regrowth.
The goal of this work is to create rights-of-way comprised of lower-growing shrubs. While shrubs never grow high enough to interfere with power lines, they provide stable conditions for wildlife and greater aesthetics along the roadside.
We take our environmental responsibilities very seriously, including doing our best to protect our feathered friends. Read more about our policy on nesting birds.
Herbicides have been widely used for years to manage vegetation growth and are more effective than only cutting trees. Cutting hardwood trees leads to quick regrowth of new tree sprouts from the stump, interfering with the growth of low-lying shrubs and requiring our crews to return more often to the area for maintenance. Herbicide application effectively prevents this regrowth, thus promoting the growth of lower-growing plants like grasses, shrubs, ferns and berries that do not interfere with power lines. The herbicide most often used by our forestry crews is Tordon 101, which is registered for use by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) of Health Canada.
Permission, Public Notice and Water Protection
Herbicide use is regulated through an approval from the provincial government. Prior to any application, NS Power submits project maps to the Nova Scotia Department of Environment. All approvals require a buffer from watercourses and from private water supplies. Nova Scotia Power publicly advertises for at least 20 days prior to any work beginning and posts street-level notification on site at least 7 days prior to any herbicide application.
Our forestry team responds to any questions or concerns about vegetation management activities and can be reached through our Customer Care Centre.