Trees and power lines

Trees cause around a quarter of all power cuts on our electricity network each year – that’s about 70,000 people losing power.

When overgrown, trees interfere in power lines and make it difficult for our crews to restore power. In high winds and storms, branches blow into power lines, causing power outages.

The good news is that with proper tree maintenance, most of this can be avoided.

Tree owner responsibilities

Many people don’t realise that property owners are legally obliged to keep their trees well clear of power lines, as stated in The Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003

Tree owners play an important role in helping us keep the power on for our communities.

They do this by planting trees away from powerlines, choosing appropriate tree species and ensuring trees are regularly maintained by an approved contractor.

Look up before you plant

Some trees look small when you buy them, but they can quickly grow much bigger and closer to overhead lines.

If planting near overhead lines, it’s important to choose small trees and shrubs that will grow no more than 4 metres high. You should also plant them well away from buried power cables and gas pipes.

Here are some suitable species to plant under power lines: 

Coprsma lucida 

Shining karamu 

Leucopogon fasciculatus  

Mingimingi 

Pomaderris kumerahou 

Kumerahou 

Macropiper excelsum 

Kawakawa 

Solanum laciniatum 

Poroporo 

Camellia 

Most varieties 

Phormium cookianum 

Coastal flax (Wharaiki) 

Phorium tenax 

Harakeke 

Maintain your trees near power lines

The Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003 states how close trees may come to power lines before trimming is needed.  

Powerco monitors trees growing close to power lines and will serve a Cut or Trim Notice to tree owners if we identify a tree encroaching the notice zone. 

If you receive a First Cut and Trim notice you must contact the contractor who served the notice and arrange for the work to be carried out. If you receive a Cut or Trim notice advising work will be at your cost, you must arrange for an approved contractor to carry out the work (we’ve provided a list further below).

If you don’t complete the request on the Cut and Trim notice, you could be fined up to $10,000, plus a further $500 each day for ongoing offences. You may also be liable for costs associated with damaged power lines or equipment caused by your tree. It also puts you, your family and your neighbourhood at risk of a power outage later on.

Because working near power lines is dangerous, tree owners must never attempt to cut trees near power lines. Any tree within 4 metres of overhead power lines must be cut by approved contractors. Attempting to carry out this work yourself not only puts you at risk of electrocution or other serious injury, but you could be prosecuted under the Electricity (Safety) Regulations 2010.

If you receive a first Cut ot Trim Notice you must contact the contractor who served the notice and arrange for the work to be carried out, which will be at Powerco’s cost. If you receive a Cut or Trim Notice advising work will be at your cost, you must arrange for an approved contractor to carry out the work (we’ve provided a list further below). 

You must always act on a Cut or Trim Notice. If you don’t complete the request on the Cut or Trim Notice, you could be fined up to $10,000, plus a further $500 each day for ongoing offences. You may also be liable for costs associated with damaged power lines or equipment caused by your tree. It also puts you, your family and your neighbourhood at risk of a power outage later on. 

Because working near power lines is dangerous, tree owners must never attempt to cut trees near power linesAny tree within 4 metres of overhead power lines must be cut by a Powerco approved contractor. Attempting to carry out this work yourself not only puts you at risk of electrocution or other serious injury, but you could be prosecuted under the Electricity (Safety) Regulations 2010.  

Powerco runs a comprehensive, cyclical vegetation management programme (meaning our contractors periodically rotate through regions and monitor trees growing near lines). While we do our best to keep an eye on the growth of trees near our lines and distribute Cut or Trim Notices, if we have not yet come to the trees in your neighbourhood it may be because we are prioritising trees in another community at greater risk of a power cut. 

 If you are concerned about trees near power lines in your area, please contact us on 0800 769 372. 

What type of powerline is the tree growing too close to?

A service line connects to your house/pump/cowshed from the roadside. As the property owner, you’re responsible for keeping trees clear of your service line – we don’t give notices like we do for trees near our network lines. You should arrange for an approved contractor to trim trees near this service line, and before work begins you must call your retailer (the power company you pay your bill to) and ask for a temporary safety disconnection. This is a free service available between Monday to Friday from 8.00am to 5.30pm. They will require at least 24 hours’ notice to do this. 

A network line connects between power poles, generally on road reserve. Trimming trees near network lines MUST be carried out by an approved contractor (it’s the property owner’s responsibility to arrange this if it’s the second trim).

Powerco offers a “First cut free” service, provided the tree has not previously been cut by contractors. To find out if you qualify for this, contact an approved contractor in your region (list below) – they have a database of trees they have previously worked on.

If the tree has previously been trimmed by an approved contractor, then the property owner must pay the cost of trimming or removing the tree.

Powerco approved tree contractors 

Thames/Valley/Coromandel,  Tauranga

Franklin Trees – 0800 272 624 or www.franklintrees.co.nz
ArborCare – 0800 272672 or 07 543 1775 or www.arborcare.co.nz 
Asplundh – 0800 4277 583 or www.asplundh.co.nz
Treescape – 0800 873 396 or www.treescape.co.nz

Taranaki

Asplundh – 0800 4277 583 or www.asplundh.co.nz
Treescape – 0800 873396 or www.treescape.co.nz
Tree Truck Ltd – 027 607 9666 or www.treetruck.co.nz 
Tricky Tree Specialist Ltd – 06-7532924 or 0800 TRICKY or www.trickytreespecialist.co.nz 

Whanganui

 

Tree Truck Ltd – 027 607 9666 or www.treetruck.co.nz
Asplundh – 0800 4277 583 or www.asplundh.co.nz
Treescape – 0800 873 396 or www.treescape.co.nz

Palmerston North

 

Asplundh – 0800 4277 583 or www.asplundh.co.nz
Treescape – 0800 873 396 or www.treescape.co.nz
Treesmart – 0800 80 80 39 or 021 882 581 www.treesmart.co.nz
Tree Truck Ltd – 027 607 9666  or www.treetruck.co.nz

Wairarapa

 

Arb Innovations Ltd – 04 212 6366 or www.arbinnovations.co.nz
Treescape – 0800 873 396 or www.treescape.co.nz
Treesmart – 0800 80 80 39 or 021 882 581 www.treesmart.co.nz
Wairarapa Treescaping – 0800 9248 733

Declare ‘no interest’ trees

If a tree on your property is near power lines, and is either:

  • Self-seeded or
  • At the time of planting, you reasonably believed it wouldn’t interfere with power lines when fully grown,

then you can declare ‘no interest’ in the tree. This means it will be trimmed or removed at Powerco's discretion (or may not be worked on at all). 

To declare no interest in a tree, please download and complete this form.

Let us know if you have a concern or complaint 

If you are concerned about trees near power lines in your area, please contact us on 0800 769 372. 

If you have a complaint about the tree trimming process, please read about our complaints procedure.