The importance of trees to the people of Innisfil & South Barrie cannot be overstated. Not only do trees benefit climatic conditions, but from the aesthetic point of view, their contribution is not to be underestimated.
However, trees around power lines can be an extreme safety concern and major cause of power interruptions. In the event of a storm, trees can cause major damage to poles, power lines and are often the cause of prolonged power outages.
Desirable as it may be, it is not always practical to locate overhead lines where the pruning of trees for line clearance can be eliminated. It is, however, the established policy of InnPower Corporation is to engage skilled arborists and to follow recognized arboricultural practices in line clearing work so that the health and appearance of trees may be maintained to the highest degree that existing conditions will permit.
The purpose in performing line clearing operations is not only to render power lines free from tree interference so that they may give uninterrupted service, but also to protect the public against avoidable hazards due to the close proximity of tree’s to InnPower Corporation's lines.
Vegetation Management Cycles
InnPower Corporation undertakes annual vegetation management in partnership with the Town of Innisfil through qualified contractors. The Innisfil and South Barrie regions have been divided into four zones as indicated in the map in Figure 1 below. Cycle 3 is planned to be completed in 2021 as indicated in the detailed map in Figure 2 below.
Minimum Clearances from Hydro Lines
Clearance as a general rule shall provide for at least four (4) years' growth. All limbs whether sound or diseased that are liable by allying, swaying or by other means to contact the conductor, are removed where it is practical to do so.
In establishing clearance, the possibility of children climbing trees and contacting live conductors is borne in mind. Where adequate clearance cannot be obtained without mutilating the tree, the entire tree is removed.
The contractors are directed to obtain clearances as outlined in the following table:
Primary Voltage Circuits
Secondary Voltage Circuits
The following are also relevant for vegetation management:
Note 1: Diseased limbs overhanging the wire shall be removed in all cases. Sound main tree limbs may be left within the 3m vertical clearance, provided that the limb in breaking and falling downward with a hinge action would not contact the conductor.
Note 2: Private Primary services will only be trimmed on the Town's Right of Way. No services will be trimmed onto private property.
Note 3: A hazard tree is defined as one on, or off, the right-of-way that constitutes an unacceptable hazard to the safe and reliable operation of the line. When identified, these trees will be marked for removal. If Private, InnPower or our Contractor will do our best to notify customers of pending removals of private trees. If a private tree needs to be removed for safety and/or reliability purposes, InnPower will cover the cost to remove the tree down to the neutral line. All small branches and brush will be removed. Any large wood will be stacked at the base of the tree for the customer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why must trees be pruned around power lines?
To provide safe and reliable service to all of our customers, InnPower Corporation must prune trees near the power lines. As well, we are legally required through the Electrical Safety Authority of Ontario and the Ontario Electricity Act to prune trees and plants growing near power lines.
Over time, trees can grow into, fall onto, or have their branches break off over power lines during storms. When this happens, the electricity service to your home, your neighbours’ homes and whole communities can be affected. There are a range of potential disruptions – everything from flickering lights to a complete loss of power.
Since power lines are interconnected, damage can be felt at many points across the electricity grid. In the worst case, a tree can take down an entire line and break the poles that hold the line in place.
As well, there are many safety issues arising from trees being too close to power lines:
- Power lines knocked down by trees may still be energized and are very dangerous if approached or touched. Serious injuries or death can occur if the tree or energized power lines are touched.
- People can climb trees and, by mistake, touch an energized power line. Touching a power line is dangerous no matter if you are on the ground or up in a tree.
- People standing near a tree that is touching a power line can be electrocuted as the power always goes to the ground.
- Trees can obscure a work area and make it dangerous for people doing maintenance on a power line or trying to keep the trees in the area pruned.
Who is responsible for pruning trees around power lines?
InnPower Corporation in partnership with the Town of Innisfil hire a contractor to carry out regularly scheduled tree maintenance on our behalf.
During power line clearing, service contractors, using sound judgement, will prune private trees when necessary or will advise the property owner to have the necessary work done. The Electricity Act grants access for InnPower Corporation and its contractors to “enter and maintain any land for the purpose of cutting down or removing trees, branches or other obstructions”. Easements are established at the municipal development planning stage that allows InnPower Corporation and other utilities to access and maintain equipment on private properties.
Please note: Ownership of a tree is determined by the actual physical location of the tree. Whoever is the owner of the land upon which a tree is situated is also the owner of that tree. With that ownership comes all the corresponding responsibility for the care and maintenance of the tree. It does not matter who actually planted the tree – the owner of the land upon which the tree is located owns the tree and is responsible for that tree.
How much will be pruned from the trees?
Each tree is different and is considered individually. We look at:
- Species growth habits (rate, size, shape, etc.)
- A tree’s position in relation to the power line (including how close the trunk is to the power line)
- Its current condition, including individual branches
- Whether the tree is deciduous or evergreen (each requires different pruning techniques)
As well, different power lines (high voltage primary lines and low voltage secondary service lines) have different clearance requirements. Our arborists make every attempt to obtain sufficient clearance so that the tree will remain safe until we return on our next maintenance cycle.
The current Electrical Safety Authority’s (ESA) industry standard and InnPower Corporation Standard is a clearance of three metres (10 feet) from primary lines.
How often does InnPower prune trees in my area?
We employ a systematic approach to maintaining our overhead high voltage and low voltage secondary lines in Innisfil and South Barrie. The condition of vegetation (trees and plants) around the power lines dictates our need to manage the growth. Depending on the conditions on a given line, our maintenance schedule is to cover the whole InnPower Corporation service territory every four years.
Will I be notified before a tree crew comes to cut trees on my property?
We prune all the trees within one area of the service territory every four years.
Prior to the program starting:
- Notice will run through social media and other means.
- Notice may be left at your door if a significant amount of pruning or tree removal is necessary.
- Information is posted on InnPower Corporation’s website
Is InnPower responsible for cleaning up after pruning trees around distribution lines?
Tree Trimming: The majority of our pruning occurs during line maintenance cycles. Any small branches and brush will be cleaned as part of this maintenance.
Public Tree Removals: In partnership with the Town of Innisfil and South Barrie, the whole tree will be removed from site with only the stump will remain for further action from the respective municipality.
Private Tree Removals (as identified during cycle trimming): As part of the Distribution System Code, InnPower Corporation has the right to maintain our assets. InnPower or our Contractor will do our best to notify customers of pending removals of private trees. If a private tree needs to be removed for safety and/or reliability purposes, InnPower will remove the tree down to the neutral line. All small branches and brush will be removed. Any large wood will be stacked at the base of the tree for the customer.
What if my tree is unsafe?
When trees are on private property and are dead or unhealthy, the tree is not only a danger to you, your property and the general public; it is also a danger to InnPower Corporation’s power lines.
If you come upon a situation in which you feel your tree is unsafe, please inform InnPower Corporation by calling (705) 431-4321. One of our Customer Service Representatives will be happy to assist you. You are required by law to have the tree(s) looked at and made safe. You must contact a certified arborist contractor and have any tree issues resolved. As a property owner, you are responsible for all costs associated with the work done on the tree(s) on your property, including clean up.
Why are trees planted so close to power lines in the first place?
The Town of Innisfil and City of Barrie plants trees on municipal property according to the right tree in the right place principle, taking site lines and proximity to power lines into consideration. In some instances, trees are planted on municipal property without the town’s knowledge or consent.
Are trees pruned or removed for the installation of new electric lines?
When we’re installing new lines, we evaluate the best routes to minimize the impact on the environment. Any route may involve removing trees. We try to balance tree preservation with proper pole and line installation and maintenance.
Who should I call if I see a power line on the ground?
Please stay as far away as possible from any wire on the ground and call InnPower Corporation immediately at (705) 431-4321 to notify us of the danger. You should maintain a distance of 10 metres or more from a downed overhead powerline.
Who should I call for tree pruning around streetlights?
Public streetlights are owned by the Town of Innisfil and City of Barrie (with exceptions for some condominium corporations and mall parking lots). Please contact the proper town or city for this type of maintenance.
Service Barrie: (705) 726-4242
Innisfil: (705) 436-3710
Who should I call for clean up after storms and accidents?
When an act of nature (such as lightning, ice storms, snow storms, high winds, thunderstorms, tornadoes) or an accident causes your tree or vegetation to fall across power lines, creating a hazard or a power interruption, InnPower Corporation will cut and move enough of the trees and brush so poles and lines can be replaced and reenergized. The remainder of the cutting and disposal of all wood, limbs and debris resulting from this type of emergency operation is the responsibility of the property owner.
Any work done on trees in close proximity to hydro lines must be done by a certified tree contractor. InnPower Corporation will work with you and your chosen contractor to make the area safe prior to any work being completed. As property owner, you are responsible for all costs associated with the work done on the tree(s) on your property, including clean up.
Who should I call to locate underground utilities for stump removal?
For assistance in locating and marking underground utility lines, contact Ontario One Call at least five business days before you plan to start digging. You can call them at 1(800) 400-2255 or visit www.on1call.com.