During the monsoon, trees and plants can grow to interfere with power lines, blow into electrical equipment and block access for service vehicles – creating hazards for both customers and our employees.
Many residents don’t realize that it’s their responsibility to keep vegetation on their property at least 10 feet away from power lines.
A tree growing close to a power line can cause power outages as well as fires and possible electrocutions. Wood and water act as conductors of electricity and should be kept away from lines.
On the ground, overgrown weeds can keep Tucson Electric Power crews and vehicles from accessing power lines, preventing swift repairs and power restoration.
As a resident, it’s your responsibility to keep vegetation from growing in easements and alleys – the land behind your property that separates your yard from your neighbor’s yard. You are responsible for the half of the easement or alley nearest to your property.
“We love trees and other plants. But, left unattended, they can become a real hazard,” said Jim Bennett, a TEP Maintenance Planner and Certified Arborist. “Our goal is to provide our customers with safe, reliable power.”
Clearing trees from power lines
While vegetation hazards occur year-round, incidents become more frequent during the rainy season.
TEP manages vegetation within 10 feet of power lines along public roads and rights-of-way. Crews prune between 20,000-24,000 trees per year, and it takes six years to cover our entire service territory.
Customers can help by notifying TEP when they see trees or vegetation growing into lines in public areas.
TEP does not maintain vegetation around service lines that run from the pole to your property. However, TEP will temporarily disconnect the power for free while pruning takes place. To make an appointment for a service disconnect and reconnect, call TEP at 520-918-8288. A TEP line worker will move the power line during the pruning, if necessary.
Keeping alleys and easements clear
Keeping easements and alleys clear helps utility workers, police officers and firefighters access property and equipment during emergencies. Cluttered, overgrown alleys and easements violate a city of Tucson ordinance, and fines can be levied for violations.
Blocked access can also be dangerous.
A few years ago, a tree growing into power lines caught fire. In order for TEP crews to repair the damage, workers had to spend several hours removing vegetation to access the affected equipment at night.
In the meantime, a sick child had to be rushed by ambulance to the hospital because the battery pack on his life-support system at home was running low on power.
Last year, TEP teamed up with the city of Tucson to produce a public service announcement about the importance of clean alleys, which included the story about the child.
Residents must make their own arrangements to clear vegetation from alleys and easements. The City of Tucson provides brush and bulky trash service twice a year for free or residents can pay a fee for special pickups. Find out more about the city’s brush and bulky service and restrictions.
Visit TEP’s vegetation management program webpage to learn more.