You Asked, We Answer: Tree Trimming

Trees make our province a beautiful place to live—but when they get too close to power lines, they can also cause outages. It’s why we count on our vegetation management team to identify problem areas and trim trees and remove branches.

Tree contacts are the number one cause of power outages in Nova Scotia—and you often ask us about how and where we’re trimming trees to prevent these outages from happening.

From day-to-day operations to storm clean-up, we asked Trevor Beaton, our Forestry Manager, to share his answers to your most-asked tree trimming questions.

Q: Where do you trim trees?

A: Our vegetation management team works on tree trimming across Nova Scotia every day. Our electrical system is made up of more than 32,000 km of transmission and distribution lines—the majority of which run along forested areas and tree lined roads. It means we have our work cut out for us! 

Our dedicated forestry team and contractor crews work throughout the province, all year to reduce the risk of outages caused by trees.

Q: How do you decide where to trim?

A: There’s a lot that goes into deciding where and when to trim trees that are near our lines.  We look at outage data and trends to better understand where we’re seeing the most outages caused by tree interference. We also consider the condition of our lines through assessments by our forestry teams and requests that come from you, our customers.

When you make a request for a tree to be trimmed through our tree trimming program, it must meet certain criteria. If the tree is deemed to not be a threat to our infrastructure, it may be your responsibly, or a third party’s responsibility to remove or manage the tree. To learn more about responsibilities of different parties, click here.

Any emergency situations, like fallen branches that have resulted in downed wires require our immediate attention. Downed wires are high voltage and dangerous. If you see a wire that poses a threat to you or your community’s safety, please contact us directly at 1-800-428-6230.

Q. Who is responsible for tree trimming in Nova Scotia?

A: Our vegetation management team is made up of highly trained forestry professionals and technicians. This team is experienced in assessing what trees pose potential hazards, based on species, tree health or ground conditions. 

On any given day, we have anywhere from 50 to 60 contractor crews trimming trees across Nova Scotia. You’ll often see Asplundh, Lucas Tree Experts or R MacLean Forestry vehicles completing this work. 

Our power line technicians are also trained in some aspects of forestry work and may need to trim trees as part of a response to an outage.

Q. Do you trim trees along the power lines in Halifax?

A: Both Nova Scotia Power and the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) are responsible for tree trimming within HRM. 

HRM manages the tree trimming on all municipality owned trees (typically the trees between sidewalks and the roadway), and we manage the trimming on all privately-owned trees that may pose a risk to our electrical system. This includes any trees that are close to high voltage wires, or any branches that are laying on our lines, or causing damage to our equipment. It's important to note that before trimming on private property, we first need the customer's permission.

Customers are responsible for trimming around the low voltage wire that runs along the street to your home, communications wires, and the support cables that provide physical support to our poles. 

More information around tree trimming responsibilities and a list of tree trimming contractors can be found here.

Q. How are you working to prevent power outages?

A: We invest $25 million in our tree trimming program each year. A big part of this investment is focused on working to increase the clearance between power lines and trees by widening the width of our right-of-way (the area which our transmission lines reside as they carry electricity from our substations all across the province ), to reduce the risk of tree contacts.

These efforts rely on receiving permission from the customer / landowner before we get started. 

For more information about our tree trimming program, and our approach to working in your community, visit our Vegetation Management page.

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