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Simple tree practices to follow for hurricane season

The Arbor Day Foundation has recognized Duke Energy Florida for its tree care practices by naming the company a "Tree Line USA" utility for the 18th year in a row.

Duke Energy achieved Tree Line USA status by meeting certain criteria such as following industry standards for quality tree care, including proper pruning, annually training employees and contractors in best practices, sponsoring tree plantings and public education programs, and participating in annual Arbor Day events.

One such event is Duke Energy's annual tree giveaway in partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation's Energy-Saving Trees program. Each January, Duke Energy customers can order a free tree in honor of Florida Arbor Day. Since 2017, the company has given away more than 13,000 trees to customers throughout the state. The program helps customers conserve energy and reduce energy bills through strategic tree planting. The trees are shipped in 1-gallon buckets directly to customers' homes with planting and care instructions in time for National Arbor Day.

"Trees are a vital part of Florida's natural landscape, but they are also one of the leading causes of power outages, especially here in Florida, where high winds and hurricanes are common," said Melissa Seixas, Duke Energy Florida state president. "Our crews and contractors work hard to balance aesthetics with our responsibility to protect the lines that deliver power to homes, businesses and critical services like hospitals, grocery stores and public safety facilities across the state."

Throughout the year, Duke Energy schedules periodic vegetation maintenance along power lines to minimize outages caused by trees in or near transmission and distribution rights of way. The company also performs additional maintenance ahead of hurricane season.

Tree maintenance practices vary based on the voltage and type of line, as well as the type of tree and its proximity to the line. In some cases, the tree may need to be cut down to provide safe and reliable operation of the line. Trees located within the rights of way of high-voltage transmission lines are generally removed instead of pruned.

"We recognize that customers have concerns when trees are trimmed or removed in their neighborhoods," Seixas said. "Know that we are following industry standards and federal requirements to ensure the health of the trees while also ensuring the integrity of power lines to continue providing the safe, reliable service we all depend on."

It is important to remember that customers, property owners and untrained contractors should not prune or cut trees and plants near power lines. In addition, when planting trees near power lines, be sure to select a low-growing variety to minimize impact to the lines. Also, contact Sunshine 811 before digging to locate any underground utilities, which are often located in utility easements.


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