With 20% of power outages caused by trees, Unison Relationship Manager, Danny Gough, is asking customers to check for trees growing too close to power lines.
“Each year, particularly during the autumn and winter periods, avoidable power outages occur as a result of trees growing too close to power lines, and coming into contact with the network during high winds and heavy rainfall,” said Mr Gough.
“Our annual aerial survey programme helps us to identify potential vegetation problems on the network, but we still rely on our customers to make good planting choices, or to contact us if they have concerns about trees encroaching on the lines.”
Every year, electricity distributors are required by law to publish information relating to trees and the power supply and, in addition to this, Unison actively works to help educate customers on the importance of safely managing trees near the network.
“We have a planting guide, which we are offering to supply to garden centres, to enable customers planning on planting under or near overhead power lines to choose a species that won’t grow to be a problem.
“We are actively working to educate our customers on ‘how close is too close’, and the need to contact Unison before trimming or felling the tree, so we can ensure it is done safely.
“Electricity can travel through leaves, branches and tree trunks, transforming them into a deadly hazard. We don’t want anyone’s day in the garden to end in tragedy, so we ask people to play it safe, and call us before getting out the chainsaw.
“If you do have lines down after a storm, stay clear and keep family, pets or stock well away, and call us immediately.”
How close is too close?
The Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003 details a ‘Growth Limit Zone’, which is the space around the power line where trees must not encroach, even in windy or storm conditions. For information on the what the 'Growth Limit Zone' distances are, check out www.unison.co.nz/growth-limit-zone.
Is there a cost to have my tree trimmed?
Unison may cover the cost to perform the first cut or trim on a tree encroaching on a power line, based on conditions outlined at www.unison.co.nz/trees.
What can I plant near power lines?
Unison recommends that you do not plant trees near power lines. However, if you do decide to plan a tree near powerlines, you can find Unison’s planting guide at www.unison.co.nz/tree-planting-guide.