The Wire

Energy news from Omaha Public Power District

How Does That Work?

Tree maintenance: Whose responsibility is it?

April 20, 2021 | Jodi Baker | reliability, T&D, trees
tree maintenance

Many customers may not realize that OPPD has a Forestry Department, who works to keep trees away from power lines. But the responsibility for maintaining these trees and large shrubs does not automatically fall to the utility.


OPPD Forester Mike Norris said his team regularly trims trees that are encroaching on power lines or other equipment, or have the potential to do so, about every five to seven years. These maintenance efforts take place within rotations, with crews tackling one circuit area at a time. “That’s key to keeping reliable power flowing to our customers,” he said.

“We will seek removal of some trees, depending on the type of line we’re dealing with, tree species, size, and condition,” he said. “However, trees are not removed without a property owner’s permission.”

In addition, OPPD crews may trim or even remove trees as a result of weather-related damage. Harsh weather conditions like wind, lightning, snow or ice can cause irreparable damage to trees, threatening electrical reliability or safety. That’s when OPPD steps in.

Home or property owners

“Homeowners are responsible for the trimming of trees that are adjacent, or next to, to their service wires, but not in danger of encroaching upon them,” Norris said.

Depending on how close a tree is to service or streetlight wires, customers should call OPPD at 402-536-4131 to request that those wires be temporarily dropped to accommodate safe trimming or removal.

“If a customer decides to trim or remove a tree that’s adjacent to wires which run from pole to pole, OPPD will provide clearance so the customer’s private tree service has safe access,” Norris said. “However, debris would be left on site, and clean-up is the customer’s responsibility.”


If you have questions, visit or submit a request, question or comment online.

You may also call OPPD Forestry at 402-536-4131 and ask for our Forestry team. They can provide guidance or inspect your property to determine the best course of action.

Outage Steps_infographic

Author Image

About Jodi Baker

Jodi Baker contributes stories to The Wire in addition to serving as a media liaison for OPPD. She was a reporter, working for news stations from her hometown of Omaha to San Diego, prior to joining the utility in 2013. Jodi has a bachelor’s degree in Broadcasting from the University of Nebraska-Omaha, with a minor in Criminal Justice. She’s married with two older children and two younger dogs – Shi Tzu mixes. She loves watching her daughter’s track meets, going to concerts with her husband Dave, who used to co-host a local music video program, and traveling whenever possible.

View all posts by Jodi Baker >

Leave a Comment


How Does That Work?


Leading the Way

Powerful Life


Working for You