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Tree Trimming Basics 

NES crews work to control tree growth in order to prevent power outages and to ensure the safety of our customers and crews working in the field.  Since an accelerated program began in 2002, the number of tree-related outages has declined significantly.

How NES Trims Trees

The degree to which a tree is trimmed depends on several factors:  the tree species, voltage of surrounding power lines, and the proximity of those lines to the tree branches.

NES follows a lateral pruning method developed by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA).  Lateral pruning keeps the overall structure of the tree strong and more resistant to high winds and heavy ice.  At the same time, it directs growth away from power lines. 

NES does not “top” or “round” trees because this practice is discouraged by the National Arbor Day Foundation.

  • Overhang Removal - For large trees with branches hanging over power lines, we require at least 15 feet of clearance above distribution lines.  With transmission lines, no overhang is allowed.

  • “V” Pruning - When utility wires run through a tree, a v-cut is made to allow branches on either side of the wire to grow naturally.

  • Side Pruning - Interfering side branches are removed from trees adjacent to power lines.

Power lines at the side and rear of a customer's property that are not accessible from a paved or gravel surface require special clearances of 5 to 10 feet on each side of the pole.

In unmaintained areas, vegetation within the clearance distance will be removed.  It may be necessary to remove vegetation outside of the clearance area, depending on the species and amount of trimming required.  Additionally, no vines are allowed to grow on NES poles or equipment. 

Keeping You Informed  

We will make every attempt to keep you informed throughout the process.  You should receive a notice in the mail and a recorded voicemail message before any trimming begins.  Work planners will attempt to meet with you personally to explain the work that needs to be done and to discuss your concerns.  If a work planner cannot reach you, a door hanger will be left at your home explaining what trimming or removals will occur.  Feel free to call our tree trimming hotline number, 615-695-7400, if you have questions or need more information.

Tree Debris Removal  

We work throughout the year to remove dangerous limbs from our power lines.  Tree limbs that come into contact with the lines are a common cause of power outages and can create a safety issue.

  • Routine Trimming - During normal trimming projects, our contractors will remove and/or chip the tree limbs and debris from the customer's property.
  • Emergency Trimming - When tree debris is caused by a storm or emergency situation, NES does not remove it.  Our crews must work quickly to restore power to all customers.  Crews may need to cut broken and uprooted trees to make repairs to our lines, but it is the responsibility of the property owner to remove the tree debris.

Tree Line USA Certified

The Arbor Day Foundation has certified NES as a Tree Line USA utility for meeting three requirements:  a program of quality tree care, annual worker training in quality tree care practices, and a tree planting and public education program.  NES partners with the Metro Tree Advisory Committee, the Nashville Tree Foundation, and the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council.

According to the Municipal Electric Plant Law of 1935 and the Metro Charter, Appendix III, Article 42, NES has the right to cut trees or bushes so as not to interfere with our electric service.  We follow the International Society of Arboriculture tree trimming standards, which may not necessarily be in the manner preferable to the customer.