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Trees & Power Lines

Right tree,
right place!

Tree limbs and branches are among the most common causes of power outages and flickers.

You can help minimize tree-related outages and ensure safe, reliable electric service for the future by taking time to plan before you plant. 

Planting the right tree in the right place from the beginning can help prevent future unwanted trimming or tree removal in the years to come. 

Use the following guidelines to determine if the plant is suitable for the desired location by selecting trees and shrubs based on their size at full maturity.


Existing trees and shrubs will be pruned if they are within 10 feet of overhead power lines to help prevent outages.

On the ground level, keep all new trees outside of this area. 

LOW tree zone

It’s best to not plant in this area. If you do, plant only low-growing trees and shrubs with a height of less than 15-feet when mature.

Medium tree zone

Plant medium trees (over 25 feet when mature), at least 25 feet away from overhead power lines.

LARGE tree zone

Plant large trees (over 35 feet when mature) at least 50 feet away from overhead power lines.

Why we may need to trim or remove trees on your property

We are required to comply with state and federal regulations to maintain adequate clearance in all power line rights-of-way within our service territory, including rights-of-way on privately owned property. 

Typically, the amount and type of pruning that is necessary is based on tree species, growth rate, wood strength, branch size, type of line the tree is near, risk of wildfire ignition, amongst several other factors.

We follow the American National Standard Institute (ANSI) A-300 Part 1: Tree, Shrub, and Other Woody Plant Maintenance – Standard Practices, Pruning.

These guidelines are followed to remove or shorten dangerous limbs, such as those overhanging wires that have a high potential for breaking or bending into Holy Cross Energy conductors due to ice, snow or wind loading.

Our inspection process

Our in-house vegetation management team works on a 5-year cycle to inspect every distribution circuit at least once to identify pruning and hazard tree removal needs.

If our team will be in your area, we will hang a door tag to let you know when we will be inspecting easements and performing work.  

Estimate your tree trimming needs

Enter your tree species, current tree height, and distance from the power line to see if your tree may require trimming.

What type of trimming am I responsible for myself?

While we manage vegetation in the right-of-ways surrounding our primary distribution lines, members are responsible for managing the vegetation surrounding their “service drop”. Also known as secondary service lines, these are the overhead high-voltage connections to the primary distribution lines.

Your service drop, or the line that runs from the utility pole to your home, is your personal connection to the power grid, and HCE does not trim around these lines. Keeping branches and other brushes away from these lines can prevent an outage or other electrical problems. Because these are energized lines, we highly recommend using a professional tree trimming service to perform the work.

Many properties have buried secondary service lines and should contact 811 before doing any sort of digging on their properties. 

Additionally, to help ensure reliable service, HCE personnel must have unobstructed access to equipment at all times. Members are responsible for keeping areas around electric meters, transformers, or other electrical equipment free of any vegetation.

For the safety of our operations crews and to help ensure reliable service, members must also leave proper vegetation clearance around other facilities and equipment: 

  • Pad mounted transformer clearance (the big green boxes): Avoid planting in front of transformer doors. Allow 10 feet of clearance in front of transformer doors, and 4 feet of clearance around the sides and back.
  • Access to other equipment: To help ensure reliable service, HCE personnel must have unobstructed access to equipment at all times. Members are responsible for keeping areas around electric meters, transformers, or other electrical equipment free of any vegetation.

Find a certified, local tree trimmer

Never attempt to trim trees near power lines yourself, including your service drop. 

Power lines are extremely dangerous and can be deadly. Contact a professional tree-trimming company to perform this work. Doing so could save lives.

Our Wildfire Mitigation Plan

Reducing the risk of utility-caused wildfire is essential to our operational practices. Our existing programs and procedures, as well as the incorporation of emerging technologies, are intended to directly or indirectly manage or reduce the risk of its utility infrastructure becoming an origin or contributing factor for wildfire.

The Wildfire Mitigation Plan also addresses the unique features of our service area, such as topography, weather, infrastructure, grid configuration, and potential wildfire risks. This plan describes and will expand upon our existing inspection, maintenance, and safety programs as well as community engagement efforts with a focus on strengthening the overall electric system.

We believe the strategies and activities described in this WMP are a practical approach to reducing fire-related risk in the near term and will allow for refinement and improvement over time. As we gain experience implementing the WMP’s mitigation programs and new information emerges, the co-op will assess, evaluate, enhance, and refine its practices.

Your safety is our top priority.

Call or click before you dig.

Whether you’re digging deep or even just a few inches, you must contact Colorado 811 to have underground utilities marked. Simply call ‘811’ or submit a request online. 

Planting too close to underground utilities can cause major damage. Expanding tree roots can lift or crush utility lines or cables, creating additional problems related to service loss, environmental hazards and costly repairs. 

We're here to help.