Keeping powerlines safe
Branches falling or flying loose in strong winds can bring down powerlines and cause power outages. Sometimes, it can also spark grass fires or worse. While our crews work relentlessly to restore power in these situations, we also work to prevent them by clearing vegetation each year.
This involves inspecting powerlines annually, prioritising spans between poles in both high and low bushfire risk areas and trimming trees in a way that makes sure they are both safe and healthy. We know trees are important to communities. They often have long histories or stories behind them, so we’ll let you know when we’re coming.
Please see our Vegetation Management Plan for more information about this work including how it complies with the Electricity Safety Act.
Energy Safe Victoria (ESV) is the government agency responsible for electrical safety issues and ensuring electricity companies like us meet our responsibilities around vegetation management. The electricity safety line clearance regulations can be found on the ESV website.
Frequently asked questions
- Why are you cutting my trees?
Trees and other large plants risk causing faults and fires around electricity assets. We take your safety and the security of your electricity supply seriously and need to ensure that our electrical assets are operating properly. To do this we have an obligation to clear any vegetation that may pose a risk.
The Electricity Safety Act, including the introduction of the Electrical Safety (Electric Line Clearance) regulations in 2015, requires us to meet certain minimum standards with regards to our vegetation management plans.
- Who is responsible for what tree?
Typically in urban areas United Energy is only responsible for private trees.
The trees on nature strips and median strips are mostly managed by council. If you have any questions or feedback regarding these trees, you'll need to contact council.
- When are you coming to cut my trees?
Our annual cutting schedule is determined by regulatory obligations, vegetation growth, and other factors. Typically, you will receive a physical notification between 14 and 60 days prior to cutting on or near your property unless the cutting is deemed to be urgent. In that case, we may need to cut before we can notify you to ensure that we maintain a safe and secure network.
- How do you know which trees to cut?
We use Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology – laser imaging – to take photos of our powerlines and other assets. These images can show how close a piece of vegetation is to our poles and wires. These photos are put into our vegetation management system and cutting is then prioritised based on need and location.
- Why have you cut my trees like that?
We employ our own arborists and contract with specialist firms who are subject matter experts at cutting vegetation to meet our regulatory obligations and to ensure the health of the trees.
We have to maintain certain minimum distances to ensure that even as trees and vegetation grow back, they don’t pose ongoing risk to the electrical assets they are near. Once we have cut the vegetation to be safe, you can conduct further trimming for aesthetic purposes.
- When are you coming to collect the debris?
It’s a separate crew that collects debris than the team that trims because different machinery is required for each job. We try our best to make sure that any debris from trimming is stored out of the way until we can return to collect it and typically field crews are able to collect debris within 10 days from the time of cutting.
If you feel that the required time between cutting and collection has passed, please get in contact with us and we’ll organise collection of the debris as soon as possible
- How can I ensure I don’t affect electrical poles and wires when planting my own trees and bushes?
We’ve compiled a handy guide to help you when planning for private or public garden spaces. Some good first tips are:
- Place low growing species near to powerlines and taller ones further away
- Trees need to be planted far enough away from powerlines that if they fall they won’t hit the lines
- The width of your plant is also important – ensure you allow 3 metres between the powerline and the widest part of the tree.