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Tree Pruning & Planting

Please call Benton REA at 509-786-8252 if you have questions about planting, pruning or removing trees near power lines.

Plant the Right Tree in the Right Place

Branches that get too close or touch utility power lines create a hazardous situation and can cause power outages. Selecting and planting trees with the size and growth characteristics appropriate to their location can extend the life of the tree and prevent power outages.

A list of trees, their growth heights and where you are allowed to plant them is available from the Mid-Columbia Community Forestry Council. 

Please refer to this diagram when planting trees, bushes or shrubs on your property and follow these simples steps:

where to plant a tree graphic - 20 feet away and 25 feet below power lines

Avoid planting trees directly under power lines. If the location is within 30 feet of power lines, choose trees that will grow no higher than 25 feet at maturity. There are many options available for powerline friendly trees.

Graphic shows the distance different sized trees need to be from powerlines

Call 811 Before You Dig

32 percent (554 miles) of Benton REA’s powerlines are underground. Because of this, and the many other utilities that may be lying beneath the surface (natural gas, communications, water, etc.), Benton REA urges you to call 811 before you do any kind of digging project, big or small.

Always call 811 for the Utilities Underground Location Center at least two business days before doing any digging projects! The Center will send someone to mark where your electric, gas, water, sewer and cable lines are buried. Hitting an underground wire, cable or pipeline could cause serious damage to it and potentially create an explosion or life-threatening situation.

811 Logo - Know what's below. Call Before you dig.

Tree Pruning Near Power Lines

Benton REA hires qualified line clearing contractors to keep our power lines clear of tree branches and overgrown brush. These crews know how to create necessary line clearances while at the same time considering each tree’s species, size and natural shape. These contractors clear and prune trees along our power lines on a regular maintenance cycle.

If you are planning on pruning or removing a tree near any power lines, please call Benton REA at 509-786-8252 for clarification.

Removing Trees

Sometimes it is necessary to remove a tree that has become a hazard to the electrical system. Through the years, small trees sometimes grow into potential problems including service reliability and potential danger. Many trees have to be pruned so heavily and frequently that they ultimately decline, decay or become a hazard. While the natural reaction is to save such trees, replacement is often the safest choice. In addition, dead trees should be removed before they fall into power lines.

Benton REA will work with you to evaluate and assist in removing potential problem trees and may also give you a certificate towards the purchase of a utility-friendly tree. Please call Benton REA at 509-786-8252 if you have a tree that needs to be looked at for possible removal.

Access to Electrical Equipment

In order for Benton REA employees to do their jobs in a timely and safe manner, it’s important that access to Benton REA equipment is readily available.

Electrical equipment such as pad-mounted transformers, switch cabinets or electric meters need to be kept free of obstructions for service accessibility. During power outages crews often find fences, shrubs and trees that have been placed or planted in front of electrical equipment. Removing these obstacles takes time and delays the restoration of power.

We are willing to work with members and property owners, to the extent that the landscaping around transformers does not prevent access, or can be quickly removed by our crews if needed. We do our best not to damage any landscaping when working on our equipment.

Overgrown plants can also obstruct our meter readers’ access to the electric meter on your property. It is essential that our meter readers have safe and clear access to the meter in order to obtain an accurate monthly electricity use read.

Bad example - Pat Mount Transformer is not accessible to utility workers because it is hidden by large rocks and plants
Bad example - Not accessible to utility workers
Good example - Pad Mount Transformer is accessible to utility workers because there is plenty of empty space around it
Good example - Accessible to utility workers

Do not block electrical equipment with landscaping. A pad mount transformer with a lot of clearance is safe for members and electric utility workers.

Tree Line USA

Benton REA has been named a Tree Line USA Utility  by the National Arbor Foundation every year since 2013. This award recognizes the cooperative for caring for the health of trees, public education regarding tree planting for energy conservation and appropriate placement near utility lines as well as community tree planting.

West Richland City employees plant trees at Flat Top Park in 2017