Tree Problems With Utility Power Lines

January 13, 2020

Utility companies the world over must deal with the constant and ever present risk of trees interfering with Power Lines. While trees are a vital part of our natural landscape. They pose risks to Utility assets and can interrupt the supply of electricity to consumers if not managed. Overhead Power Lines are still on balance the most cost effective and prevalent form of power distribution the world over.

Any Utility which has Overhead Power Lines as part of it’s network, faces the ongoing challenge of maintaining clearances around Power lines from trees which have different growth rates and risk profiles for damage. Trees which overhang Power Lines can frequently drop branches which can also cause outages by bridging across phases. Tree branches can also grow directly into the overhead Power lines and damage the pole, the cross arm/insulators or the wires themselves through abrasion, impact and wear.

Most Utilities the world over employ staff or contractors to continually maintain tree clearances by cutting back tree branches to set clearances. Unfortunately this is an expensive process given the size of many Utility networks and a recurring expense. There is also an element of risk given the close proximity tree trimming crews must get to energised conductors.

An alternative and cost effective approach is to utilise specialty Line Guards or tree protection pipe. Once installed, they offer the option to reduce the mandated clearances while protecting Power Lines and reducing the risk of outages and network damage. Tree trimming cycles can be reduced or eliminated in some circumstances.

Line Guards suited to this purpose have a number of features which make them suitable for the intended application. Firstly, they are designed to be installed for the long term, therefore must be robust and durable in design. Our Panther Tails have been tested for UV equivalent to 10 years. Additionally, the Guards must be durable to potential wear and tear. The Panther Tails unique dual layer design (black outer/yellow inner) specifically addresses this point.

Furthermore, part of the design and QA process has been to wear test with 500 rotations at 24.5 Newtons of force. These two feature sets combine to enable easy detection visually if any compromise to the product exists, while ensuring a durable product fit for purpose.


The Line Guards must also be electrical grade and rated accordingly. Complying with ASTM F712, they provide a Class 2 14.6KV rating (phase to phase). This ensures the electrical integrity and helps to insulate the phases against any potential contact or bridging caused by tree branches touching or in close proximity to the wires.

Panther Tails come in different length options and configurations, from extended continuous length rolls (60m) to 3m connectable lengths. Tool kits exist to facilitate installation by Utility crews or contractors.

In summary, if network integrity is key and reducing the risk of outages and asset damage is a fundamental requirement, then Panther Tails could be a suitable option to mitigate these risks while potentially reducing the costs of tree trimming maintenance.