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Home > Residential Customers > Products & Services

Trees and Distribution Lines


Tree Topics:

Tree Trimming Methods

OPPD follows the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A300, Standard Practices endorsed by the International Society of Arboriculture, the National Arbor Day Foundation and the National Arborist Association. It requires tree-trimmers to cut branches back to the "parent limb." This practice allows the pruning cuts to close more rapidly, reducing the chances of insect and disease damage, and promotes a healthier regrowth of branches that are directed away from the power lines.

Pruning considerations include the species of tree, growth and regrowth rates, location of trees in proximity to power lines, voltage of power lines, type of power line construction, length of pruning cycle, natural tree shape and branching pattern, general tree condition and appearance after pruning. 

Below are videos and illustrations of the types of trimming used by OPPD. The trimming method depends on how the tree is placed in relation to the power line and the type of tree being trimmed.

Side Trim

Side Trim Tree Trimming Photo

Side-trimmed prunes back branches on the side of the tree.

Tree Trimming Side Trim Graphic

V-Trim (also Crown Reduction)

V-Trim Tree Trimming Photo

Branches are pruned back toward the center of the tree crown in a V-trim.

Tree Trimming V-Trim Graphic

Tree Trimming Video

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Tree and Shrub Planting Tips

If properly placed, a tree or shrub can help lower future home heating and cooling costs. Careful positioning from power lines also helps reduce power outages and the need for costly tree trimming or removal as the tree matures.

Tree planting video

To cool in the summer, a deciduous tree (one that produces leaves in the spring) can provide maximum shade, help ease the load on your air conditioner and substantially reduce operating costs. The list of popular shade trees includes maple, oak, hackberry and sycamore. These trees lose their leaves in the fall, allowing the sun to help warm your home during the winter months.

To keep cold air out in the winter, evergreen trees make ideal windbreaks. They can effectively protect your home from the most blustery winter wind, shield outside work areas, and help reduce heating costs. Windbreaks may be planted in a straight row or in a semi-circular pattern on the upwind side of the house to block prevailing winds.

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Guidelines for Planting near Distribution Lines:

  • Small trees (10-20 feet tall) can be planted adjacent to lines
  • Medium trees (25-40 feet tall) should be planted no closer than 30 feet horizontally to lines
  • Large trees (50-80 feet tall) should be planted no closer than 50 feet horizontally to lines
  • Shrubs and landscaping placed near transformers should allow adequate access to OPPD employees for maintenance and are planted at your own risk. It may be necessary to remove vegetation if it interferes with emergency or maintenance work.

Below are useful links to help you choose and plant the right tree or shrub.

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Digger's Hotline

Before beginning any project that requires you to dig into the ground, such as construction of a deck or planting a tree, call the Diggers Hotline to have underground utility lines located and marked.
Nebraska Diggers Hotline Logo

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OPPD Arboretum

OPPD Arboretum Pond OPPD Arboretum Map Graphic

OPPD’s Arboretum is located at 108 & Blondo streets in Omaha and is open from dawn until dusk.

It is designed to educate the public about proper planting of trees, especially around power lines.

Teaching people about trees and power lines improves safety, reliability and the energy efficiency of homes.

This unique 26-acre facility contains more than 1,000 trees and shrubs of more than 200 different species. It also has two miles of walking trails and an outdoor classroom.

The beautiful setting has also become a popular hot spot for aspiring photographers and a backdrop for graduation, prom and wedding photos. Submit your photos – we’d love to see them!

For a virtual tour, please visit our arboretum map page.

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Frequently Asked Questions


Who should I contact with questions regarding trees?

Please contact OPPD’s Forestry Department.

Also, State law requires you to have underground utilities located and marked before beginning any digging project. Please call Digger’s Hotline at 811 or 1-800-331-5666 Statewide.

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Why and what does OPPD trim or remove?

OPPD will trim or remove trees that interfere with or have a potential for interfering with existing OPPD lines, or that obstruct the route of new lines.  OPPD does NOT trim the following:

  • Trees interfering with service wires (wires that run from OPPD poles to the customer’s house or building) or yard light wires. Arrangements can be made to have wires temporarily removed or disconnected to permit the property owner or a contractor to trim or remove the tree. Please contact OPPD several days in advance to ensure the availability of a crew, Monday-Friday.
  • Trees near streetlights, streetlight wires or yard lights.

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How does OPPD know when a tree needs to be trimmed or removed?

The following criteria are used to determine when and where tree trimming is done.

  • Reports of electrical outages caused by trees
  • Areas where trees have been damaged by storms
  • During routine circuit maintenance
  • Periodic inspections by OPPD personnel
  • Reports from customers indicating potential tree/power-line problems

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My tree appears to be lopsided. Will it fall over?

Your tree only appears to be lopsided aesthetically and will not fall due to our pruning activities. The tree’s stability is based on several factors including species type, structural integrity and overall health. Trees have the ability to form “reaction wood” which actually increases the tree’s strength on the side that was trimmed. This wood forms in the trunk as well as the root system and ensures the tree’s stability. It’s a natural response to every day stresses that a tree might encounter such as being subjected to wind; a lean in any direction; or competition in a stand of trees.

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Can I request help with trees near electric wires?

OPPD will assist in the trimming and removal of trees near electric wires. When a request to assist is received, an OPPD representative will complete a visual inspection to determine the scope of OPPD work and schedule a time to complete the work. OPPD’s assistance may include one or both of the following activities.

  • Temporarily reroute, de-energize or removal of electric wires that may be hazardous to workers
  • Trim tree limbs close to wires to ensure tree can be safely removed or trimmed by the property owner or contractor

In this case, OPPD is not responsible for clearing and removing wood from the property owner’s premises or cutting the wood to size. The customer or contractor will be responsible for removing brush that is blocking sidewalks or driveways.

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Trimmings Removal - jpgDoes OPPD remove all trimmings?

All branches and wood cut from the tree will be removed by OPPD. Trees will be cut as close to ground level as possible, however OPPD will not remove stumps. Fallen trees or limbs are the responsibility of the property owner, as well as the disposal of all limbs and wood resulting from the trimming of storm-damaged trees for OPPD’s service restoration efforts.


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Can the property owner keep the wood?

The property owner may keep any portion of the wood desired, however OPPD will not cut wood to uniform length or stack the wood.

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Are wood and wood chips available to the public?

  • Persons wanting wood on private property must make arrangement with the property owner
  • Tree crews cannot cut wood to uniform size or smaller than necessary for normal handling
  • Tree crews cannot load wood into private vehicles or trailers
  • Crews will not stack or separate wood

Wood and wood chips may be dumped on private or public property with approval of the property owner only when a savings in crew labor hours and equipment hours is evident.

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Is permission of the property owner necessary before doing tree work?

The provision of right-of-way easements grant OPPD the authority to trim trees without property owner permission to provide for a safe and reliable electric system. However, OPPD respects the property of its customer-owners and will notify the property owner of the need for work before trimming is done. In unusual or emergency situations, it may be necessary to trim trees without first notifying the property owner in order to restore service or eliminate safety hazards.

OPPD recommends the removal of trees that will require extensive trimming on a regular basis but will not proceed in removal without the property owner’s permission.

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International Society of Arboriculture - jpgWhat qualifications do OPPD foresters have?

OPPD employs a highly trained staff of foresters with related college degrees and experience in forestry or natural resources. They are also certified arborists and Utility Specialists with the International Society of Arboriculture. The forestry team is responsible for directing the work of contractor line-clearance crews.


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What qualifications do the tree-trimming companies contracted by OPPD have?

OPPD contracts with professional line-clearance tree-trimming firms. These firms are required to be licensed to work in OPPD’s service area, and must adhere to all standards, guidelines and laws governing the performance of tree work. Each contractor employee receives ongoing training to achieve and maintain "line-clearance tree-trimmer” qualification by the Occupational Safety and Health Association. Identification cards are issued to the general foreman and work planners of the tree-trimming firms contracted by OPPD.

Contractor Tree Trimmers - jpg Tree Trimmer - jpg

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