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Verify: Can power companies go on private property to trim trees?

Flint Energies says worker go on private property to trim trees if it interferes with power lines, but do they have a right to do it?

Some of you have emailed us asking if power companies can come onto your property to trim trees.

Flint Energies is one company that says long tree limbs interfere with the power lines. If a homeowner likes a tree just the way it is, can a power company trim it anyway?

13WMAZ talked to the Georgia Urban Forest Council and Marian McLemore at Flint Energies to learn the policies.

Haratio Griffith spends his day sitting outside with his friend in the front yard. He says the tree limbs provide shade but they can grow pretty long.

"He has them under control, but you see the power lines, you still have limbs that's growing through there," Griffith said.

Griffith says he tries to trim his own trees if an electric company doesn't come out to do it.

"If it falls down on your power lines, you might be out of the phones or you might be out of lights for a couple of days," Griffith said.

Vice President of Cooperative Communications Marian McLemore with Flint Energies says sometimes workers have to go on private property to trim trees for safety.

"Tree limbs falling on power lines is a major disruption to power delivery," McLemore said.

But do power companies have the right to go on your land to trim trees? The Georgia Urban Forest Council says they do. For example, a county might require the power company to submit a Vegetation Management Schedule before each year that lists when and where they will be trimming.

"We stay in our easement, but if we do have to go on a person's property, we make contact," McLemore said.

So we verified that a power company can go on private property to trim trees if it interferes with their service. McLemore says the company gives homeowners a 5-day notice.

"We actually leave a door hanger requesting that they contact us," McLemore said.

McLemore says the company trims within 15 feet of their main distribution lines, service lines are a different case.

"Service lines are the lines to the homes. With those lines we have a little bit more leeway," McLemore says.

McLemore says it's a good idea to plant the right tree in the right place. Pine trees are an example of trees that can be a hazard.

"You can see this right here, that's a pine tree. They are coming across here and they are coming across there into the power lines," Griffith said.

McLemore says Flint Energies has almost 7,000 power lines to maintain.

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