Michael J. Sykes: 'Before you head to the nursery ... please take a moment to consider electrical safety.'

COURTESY GRAPHIC: COLUMBIA RIVER PUD - Take care when planting trees to ensure they do not interfere with electrical equipment, such as transformers and overhead powerlines.It's a little later than usual, but it seems like spring is finally here.

We're (hopefully) through most of the poor weather we've had to endure, which means many of us are itching to get outside.

Before you head to the nursery to stock up on plants and trees, please take a moment to consider electrical safety. You can help us maintain a safe and reliable electric system by keeping vegetation away from our electrical equipment.

PMG PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Michael J. SykesWhen it comes time for planting, please try to avoid planting anything near overhead power lines if you can. If that's not possible, please select annuals, perennials, or woody shrubs that will not grow taller than 15 feet to plant near overhead lines.

If you strongly prefer trees, low-growing varieties like Mount Fuji cherry or vine maple are good options for our area.

Trees growing near power lines present the risk of sparking wildfires or causing power outages, so we ask that you keep them as far away from our lines as possible.

Another way you can help us is by keeping transformers easily accessible for our crews so they can make repairs any time. Please leave sufficient room for plants to grow without encroaching onto the transformer.

Allow at least 3 feet of space around and behind padmount transformers, and 10 feet in front of them.

Padmount transformers lower the voltage of electricity so it can be used properly inside your home. Because electricity flows through these transformers, it is important to keep them clear of vegetation.

Doing all of these things will help keep our electrical system safer and more reliable.

As a friendly reminder, if you currently have any trees on your property that are growing near our power lines, please let us know. We contract tree crews that trim and remove trees that are encroaching on our lines. This is a service provided at no cost to the customer.

You can request tree trimming services at or by calling us at 503-397-1844.

Please remember to call the utility locating service at 8-1-1 before digging to put your new plants and trees in the ground.

Michael J. Sykes is general manager of the Columbia River People's Utility District.

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