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Distribution Lines and Trees FAQ

Distribution Lines and Trees FAQ

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 Nebraska 811 or 1-800-331-5666 Statewide.


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.

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

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.


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.


Does 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.


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.


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.


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.


What 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.


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.


Don't see your question listed above?

If you have other questions about trees and power lines, call 402-536-4131 in Omaha or 1-877-536-4131 outside the metro, or contact OPPD Forestry.