Signs of Spring

Soon there will be signs of spring in central Colorado, and your thoughts may be turning to outside projects.
Sangre de Cristo Electric Association wants to remind everyone to be aware of electrical hazards while working on your property this year.

Springtime is a great time of year to plant trees, but it needs to be done safely around overhead power lines and underground utility services.


The green electrical boxes and the pads the boxes rest on are crucial to provide electrical service to your home. Underground wiring, pipes and more run into the boxes, making digging around the boxes dangerous. Contact with underground wires can cause serious injury or death.

The boxes are actually cabinets and transformers that must be accessed to make repairs and upgrades by lineworkers from SDCEA as necessary. A box should never be enclosed in a decorative box or other structure to camouflage or ‘hide’ its appearance. Such enclosures block access to all sides of the cabinet and can inhibit the electrical equipment inside the boxes from cooling down, which can damage the equipment inside. For the same reasons, landscaping should never be planted near the box to hide it.

If there is difficulty in accessing the box, lineworkers will either need to tear down, cut down or remove your carpentry or landscaping to access the box, or, in the case of a large outage, move on to the next box to try
to make repairs until there is time to remove the obstruction. That may delay restoration of power on your property and/or restoration of power to other people’s properties.


Trees that grow too close to electric lines can create shock and fire hazards as well as power outages. More importantly, children can become victims of electric shock when they climb trees that have grown too close to the power lines. Trees growing into power lines can also create electrical hazards for people who might be trimming branches, hanging lights or otherwise working around power lines.

Take the time to research tree selections by consulting your local arborist or tree nursery. These experts can provide assistance in designing a beautiful, shade-filled yard with trees appropriate for each area of the landscape. With their help, trees can provide economical cooling in the summer and a windbreak for harsh winter winds.

Choosing the right tree for the right place is crucial, especially when it comes to power lines. Trees and wood in general can potentially conduct electricity and can create a safety hazard if grown close to electric lines. Power outages or momentary interruptions can occur when branches come into contact with overhead lines. Electrical arcing and sparking from a wire to a nearby branch can also cause fires.

If you have trees that appear to be growing into power lines, contact SDCEA. Never try to prune them yourself. provides the following safety tips to avoid future electrical hazards:

  • Consider the height of mature trees. Never plant a tree near a power line that could grow within 25 feet of it. Tall growing trees should be planted a minimum of 20 feet away from power lines, and 50 feet away to avoid future pruning. A mature height of less than 15 feet is recommended for trees planted near power lines.
  • Do not plant near underground utility services. Tree roots can grow to interfere with underground pipes, cables and wires. Future repairs to these facilities also could damage the health and beauty of nearby plants and trees, or even require removal.
  • Keep areas around electric meters, transformers or other electrical equipment free of any vegetation that could limit utility service access.
  • Before digging, call the local underground utility locator service—811— to mark the location of underground utilities so that accidental contact, damage and injuries can be avoided.