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NES is committed to providing safe, reliable, and affordable electric service to more than 430,000 customers each day. This essential service is provided through a well-designed and –maintained power delivery system which distributes electricity to the greater Nashville area.

Our Program

We understand the importance of safe & reliable power in keeping our lives running smoothly. That's why tree trimming is so important. Since our VM program began, tree related outages have dropped significantly.

Trimming Guidelines

How NES Trims Trees

Our Tree Trimming program is an integral part of the power delivery system. We work diligently to manage vegetation growth along each circuit on our system every three to four years. This Planned Cycle Maintenance helps us minimize outages from vegetation growing into equipment or the potential risks for falling onto equipment. At the completion of the cycle, we begin again.

NES follows the lateral pruning method developed by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) and approved by the National Arborist Association, the National Arbor Day Foundation and the Metro Tree Ordinance.

Lateral pruning leaves the overall structure of the tree stronger and more resistant to high winds and heavy ice while directing future growth away from NES equipment. NES does not promote “topping” or “rounding over” pruning malpractices. These are discouraged because they leave the tree weakened and susceptible to insects and disease.  
NES follows the Lateral Pruning Method which includes:

Overhang Pruning

For road-accessible distribution circuits, overhang may be allowed. In approved locations, the clearance shall be a minimum of 15’ above primary. For higher voltage transmission lines, no overhang is acceptable.

“V Pruning”

When high voltage wires run above or through a tree, V-pruning may be selected to allow branches or stems on either side to grow away from the lines. See Tree Removal information as that is typically the best option in this scenario.

Side Pruning

For trees growing adjacent to power lines, we remove branches that are above, below, or encroaching from the sides to gain the clearance necessary to account for growth during the trim cycle.

Did You Know?

Did you know? NES trims trees through more than 5,700 miles of power lines. That's roughly equal to the distance between Nashville and Athens, Greece.

Give Us a Call
For more information, review our list of common questions or call our Tree Trimming Hotline at 615-695-7400 (Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.).

Communications Process

We Want You to Be Informed

As a public power provider, NES is not obligated to notify or seek approval from individual property owners to perform planned cycle maintenance. However, we want you to be informed so NES utilizes several avenues to communicate with property owners before work is done. We plan post card mail outs and Interactive Voice Recordings for all customers on a circuit. Field personnel are available to discuss, by phone or in person, work that is planned on your property. Door hangers are left if no one answers the door during our pre-planning or work completion. We also have a dedicated Tree Trimming Hotline number (615-695-7400) for all vegetation related questions.

Removals & Plantings

NES requires a safety maintenance zone around each pole which extends at least a ten-foot radius within which all vegetation will be removed.

When power lines are located at the side or rear of a property that are not accessible from a paved or gravel surface NES requires that all vegetation within an area five to ten feet wide (depending on line construction) each side of the pole line be removed. For safety purposes this area must be maintained clear of trees or woody shrubs. Vegetation outside this area will be trimmed or removed selectively.

NES will work with property owners to maintain proper clearances in landscaped areas but retains the right to remove non-compatible vegetation in landscaped areas.

Vines growing on NES poles, guy wires, or other utility equipment are not acceptable and will be addressed but will not be pulled down.

Pad Mount transformers have a sticker on the box depicting a six foot clearance for the front door and three foot clearance on each side.


Hazard Trees

A hazard tree is a structurally unsound tree, at risk of falling and hitting a target.  NES will investigate and assess a hazard tree that could strike NES equipment to determine eligibility for removal.  The primary factors in the assessment are:
  • proximity of the tree to primary power
  • surrounding terrain
  • equipment accessibility
  • construction type
  • voltage classification (service, distribution, transmission).
  1. Hazard trees with trunk or limbs within 10’ of primary power (wire zone), is a candidate for removal and will need to be assessed by an NES Designated Representative (NESDR) to determine if the tree should be removed entirely or if a safety trim* can be performed.   
  2. Hazard trees outside 10’ of energized primary and on private property are considered the responsibility of the property owner.  NES arborists may remove limbs and/or portions of the trunk that could strike NES facilities, if the assessment by the NESDR shows elevated risk to NES facilities.  Removal of the remaining tree and disposal of all wood debris is the responsibility of the homeowner.
  1. NES does not remove trees near service lines*. The homeowner is responsible for tree removal.  NES will disconnect service, at no cost, to allow a private tree company to remove the tree.
*A safety trim only removes parts of the canopy and/or portions of the trunk that could strike NES facilities; or that are within 10’ of energized primary.

*Service line is a line that goes to the weather head on the house.

NES Tree Planting Program

Trees growing directly under or within fifteen feet of power lines are difficult to trim and retain its natural aesthetics. In these situations, it is often best to remove the tree. The site and scenario will be reviewed to determine inclusion in the tree planting program.

NES uses this program to promote the “Right Tree in the Right Place” and to add beauty to our neighborhoods.

Since our Tree Planting program began in 1989, NES has planted more than 65,000 trees and has contributed to many thousands more plantings in the greater Nashville area through our corporate partnerships and sponsorships.

Planting Guidelines

Watch Our Video to Learn More about Planting the Right Trees in the Right Places.
Call 811 Before Planting to Learn Where Underground Lines, Pipes and Cables are Buried in Your Yard.


  • Are tree crews working in my neighborhood?
    You will receive a voicemail message and/or notice on your door when crews are scheduled to work in your neighborhood. Communication is a crucial element of our vegetation management program.  We will make every attempt to keep you informed throughout the process. If you have questions, call our tree trimming hotline at 615-695-7400.
  • Why does NES trim trees?
    Our tree program is key to preventing power outages and providing you with the most reliable service possible.  Since the program began, tree-related outages have dropped significantly.   Removing vegetation from around NES equipment helps keep our workers and the public safe.
  • How are trees trimmed?
    Our goal is to keep trees healthy while making sure they don’t interfere with power lines. Learn more about our trimming guidelines. 
  • Who cleans up the debris after trimming?
    During normal trimming, our contractors will remove and/or chip tree limbs and debris from your property. However, NES does not remove tree debris caused by a storm, tree or limb failure or for emergency restoration of power. 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 debris.
  • Will NES ever cut down a tree?
    Trees growing directly under or close to power lines can be difficult to trim. In some cases, it is best to remove the tree. Candidates for tree removal are assessed on an individual basis. Please contact the tree trimming hotline at 615-695-7400 if you have concerns about a tree near the power lines.
  • Where should I plant trees to avoid future problems?
    Trees grow to varying heights. Before planting, visualize the height and spread of a mature tree in relation to nearby power lines. Follow our minimum planting clearances to avoid future tree trimming.
  • Can NES legally trim trees?
    Courts in Tennessee support a public utility's right to trim and remove trees, both within and outside of the right-of-way. According to the Municipal Electric Plant Law of 1935 and the Metro Charter, Appendix III, Article 42, NES has the power to purchase, construct, maintain and improve the electric system and to "do all acts and things necessary and convenient" to carry out the power given.
  • Will NES trim around the light on my property?
    NES only trims for necessary maintenance on street or private lights as well as the secondary lines that serve them.  NES does not trim for the light pattern.
  • Where can I get more information on Emerald Ash Borer and Ash tree devastation?
    You can find more information in our Emerald Ash Borer brochure, or on the Metro Nashville and State of Tennessee websites.
  • Who can I contact for additional questions?
    Call our tree trimming hotline at 615-695-7400 (Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.).
For timely outage updates, follow us on Twitter and Facebook @NESpower.

Need Assistance?

Call our tree trimming hotline at 615-695-7400 (Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.).