Frequently Asked Questions

Trees can affect service reliability, either at the precise location where a tree may contact a line, at other locations on that line or at other locations on the electric grid. Fallen trees can interrupt power to many customers.

In a worse-case scenario, a tree can tear down the entire line and break the poles holding the line in place. However, a tree or even a limb can fall across two of the wires on the pole and create a path for electricity flow. When this happens, protective equipment will usually shut off the line.

High growing bushes, shrubs, vines and trees may cause electrical blinks and flickers. If you have concerns about trees or vines growing near power lines, contact us or call 208-388-2323 from the Treasure Valley area, or toll-free at 1-800-488-6151. To be safe, never attempt to prune a tree near our wires yourself.

Serious injuries or death may occur if energized power lines are touched. Most lines are not insulated; they are bare wires.

Trees and tree limbs can tear down power lines. When trees grow close to and into the lines, there’s a possibility of someone climbing a tree and making contact with an energized line.

Idaho Power maintains power lines before trees and brush are close enough to cause outages, and crews prune trees consistent with good arboricultural practices. If we wait until the trees and brush actually cause outages, then we’ve failed to reach our goal to provide customers safe, reliable power while at the same time minimizing any adverse effects to the health of trees.

Brochures are left on each customer’s door before crews arrive for routine maintenance work that is preplanned and scheduled for the area. In emergency situations or in follow-ups related to outages that cannot be planned ahead of time, we are unable to give prior notification.

We are only involved with the maintenance and removal of trees and other vegetation that might endanger the public or the safe and reliable operation of poles and lines for the delivery of electricity.

Most professionals recommend tree pruning in the dormant season, during winter when trees don’t grow. Most professionals advise if you are not severely pruning a tree, it can be pruned any time of year.

We have a routine cycle maintenance program for trees and brush growth around power lines. In cases where tree conditions are worse, one line may be maintained more often than another.

If a particular line is not currently scheduled for maintenance, but begins to show an unacceptable number of tree-related outages, it will be maintained sooner.

We employ a systematic approach to maintaining more than 20,000 miles of overhead power lines. The condition of trees and brush around the power lines dictates our need to manage the growth. Depending on the conditions on a given line, our maintenance cycle is about every three years.

Each tree is different and must be considered individually. Trees with trunks close to the power lines require much heavier pruning than trees located farther from the line.

Some techniques that are appropriate on hardwood trees cannot be used on some soft-wooded species. When pruning operations are performed, our trimming experts make every attempt to prune sufficient clearance so that the tree will remain safe until we return on our next routine maintenance.

We do not “round” trees over because it’s not good for the health of the trees.

We subscribe to a method of pruning called lateral and directional pruning. These methods are endorsed by many in the tree-care industry as being the best pruning technique for the health of the tree.

The basis for lateral pruning is that each limb removed from a tree is removed either where it joins another limb or at the trunk.

This procedure is different than the philosophy of “rounding” trees over in which limbs are cut at arbitrary points normally leaving unhealthy “stub” cuts.

Directional pruning involves cutting a limb back to another limb, or lateral, so the limb’s future growth is directed away from power lines. With directional pruning techniques, tree growth causes minimal impact to public safety and electrical service.

Yes. Each crew has at least one person who is a certified arborist or who has completed an advance course in arboricultural training. The area supervisors, the Idaho Power utility arborists and the staff notifying customers in advance about the pruning project, are all certified arborists.

Idaho Power prunes trees to ensure safe, reliable electric service to you. The cost of managing the natural growth around power lines is part of the rates approved by the public utility commissions in both Idaho and Oregon.

Pruning trees around power lines should only be attempted by trained professionals. Serious injuries and even fatalities have occurred when untrained individuals do this work without the assistance of qualified professional.

Please contact us online or call us at 208-388-2323 from the Treasure Valley area or 1-800-488-6151 for other areas, for an evaluation of the trees and vegetation around power lines prior to any removals.

Trees with a mature height of less than 25 feet are the trees of choice under power lines.

The majority of our pruning and cutting occurs during routine line maintenance cycles. Our policy is to dispose of any small limbs and brush in landscaped settings. Any wood larger than 4 inches in diameter is cut into manageable lengths for your use.

In non-landscaped sites, pruned vegetation and wood is left in place. This material will bio-degrade.

When an “Act of God” (such as lightning, ice storms, high winds, hurricanes, tornadoes) cause trees or other vegetation to fall across power lines and create power outages, we cut the trees and brush so poles and lines can be replaced and re-energized. Disposal of any wood, limbs or debris resulting from this type of emergency operation is the property owner’s responsibility.

No, unless needed to unlock a gate or control pets.

Most people would not hire another party to prune the tree and clear the lines. There are many government requirements that pruners must follow when working near power lines. For example, OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has a requirement that states you cannot work within 10 feet of a power line.

No. Painting or repairing cuts has been found to be ineffective for slowing growth or preventing disease.

Yes, however, the chips are not sterilized and may include thorns, branches and pesticides from customers spraying their trees.

No. The tree service works in cycles. It is inefficient and costly to move out of the cycles. With proper pruning, time of year will not affect the health of the tree.

About every three years.

No. It is the responsibility of the phone and cable utilities to prune trees or vegetation around their lines.

Technically, we are performing a notification of work to be performed. We do this as a courtesy to you, our customer. We have easements to the property, which gives us access to maintain our lines.

Idaho Power is obligated to keep lines clear to provide power to the community and our customers. We can, as a last resort, pursue legal means.

If it can be proven by the customer the tree pruning procedures killed the tree, Idaho Power would cut it to a stump and pay the customer a nominal amount, currently $50 per tree.

The cost to install underground lines is $5,000 to $10,000 per homeowner.

Underground cable life is typically less than 20 years. Any time a cable fails, Idaho Power would have to dig down and repair the faulted line. In addition, relocating overhead lines to underground cable often destroys a tree’s root system.