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 17th year in a row.
The Tree Line USA Program demonstrates how trees and utilities can coexist for the benefit of communities and citizens by highlighting best management practices in public and private utility arboriculture. The program promotes the dual goals of safe, reliable electric service and abundant, healthy trees.
Trees and vegetation are part of Florida’s natural landscape and also one of the leading causes of power outages for utilities.
“Duke Energy has a responsibility to protect the lines that deliver power to homes and businesses across the state to ensure the safe, reliable electric service our customers depend on,” said Melissa Seixas, Duke Energy Florida state president. “Receiving this recognition from the Arbor Day Foundation year after year not only demonstrates our commitment to our customers but to the environment.”
Duke Energy achieved Tree Line USA status by meeting certain criteria. Utilities must follow industry standards for quality tree care, including proper pruning; provide annual employee and contractor training in best practices; sponsor tree plantings and public education programs; and participate 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. Customers have the opportunity to order a free tree in honor of Florida Arbor Day each January. 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, which this year falls on April 28. Customers ordered approximately 1,200 tree species including crape myrtle (muscogee/lavender or natchez/white) as well as dahoon holly, sweetbay magnolia and red bottlebrush. Since 2017, the company has given away more than 12,000 trees to customers throughout the state.
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.
For more information about planning and planting vegetation around electrical facilities, please visit Duke Energy’s Right Tree Right Place website.