Dave Works in Hydro Lines

Dave is one of just over a dozen arborists in the prairie provinces who is accredited to work in high-voltage power lines. He has many hours of experience performing this dangerous work and training others in best practices. He routinely subcontracts to other companies to climb/lead Hydro contracts that are normally done in winter months when prairie trees are frozen and therefore less conductive, resulting in a safer work environment.

Hydro lines generate significant voltage. Obviously, power like that could kill or severely maim even a skilled tree-care worker without warning. A simple gust of wind, an onslaught of wet snow, too much humidity, or an inadvertent loss of attention on the arborist's part, could result in instant death. For that reason, high focus, concentration, the ability to detect weather conditions, and the wherewithal to ascertain the correct approach to removing a particular limb, are critical and exponentially greater for a climber vs. an aerial lift operator.

Although the increased risk of working in Hydro lines may motivate the less confident tree-care worker to avoid the highest-risk branches or make pruning decisions that would negatively impact a tree's appearance, its health, or the safety of people or nearby structures below, Dave approaches his Hydro trees with the same concern for their sustainability and aesthetics as he approaches trees that stand freely. Below is an pictoral example of a section of a tree as it appeared before Dave pruned it, and the same section of the tree after Dave had completed his work.

BEFORE: Branches hanging amongst high-voltage Hydro lines AFTER: Dave has removed the problematic limbs yet maintained the tree's aesthetic appearance

To see additional pictures that illustrate the incremental stages of Dave pruning this Hydro tree in a residential neighborhood, click here. The temperature this day was -45°C including windchill. In the pictures, you'll notice protective plastic covers (orange ones) that have been purposefully placed on the lines in locations Dave judged to be in close proximity to the branches he decided should be pruned or removed. These plastic covers are the only protection Dave has from the extreme voltage. If he misjudges the current location of a cover and inadvertently leans even the smallest portion of a tree limb into an unprotected wire, the electricity will reach him in an instant.

When dealing with Hydro trees, an arborist must reach that compromise between removing as few branches as possible to preserve a tree's pleasing appearance, yet in the interest of our utility-dollar, remove as many branches as possible to ensure a return pruning-visit to the tree will not be required for approximately three-to-five years. For that reason, the challenge is to remove the appropriate number of branches without causing the tree to look barren or misshapen.

Only arborists like Dave with the skill to make the appropriate judgment calls can handle the job successfully and safely. Dave's customers are always grateful for his obvious care for, and attention to, their trees even when their trees are found in hazardous situations such as power lines.