PG&E Electric Lines

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As we enter the winter weather season, questions often arise regarding PG&E electric lines:
•Where are they?
•What’s the difference between transmission and distribution?  
•How do I know if the lines are communication or PG&E electric?  
•Is PG&E responsible for clearing vegetation around the service drop?
•Why and when does PG&E clear vegetation from electric lines?

These links provide additional information that may be helpful.

Learn how to remain safe when dealing with power lines and other electrical equipment

Manage trees and plants near power lines

PG&E also recommends you know your overhead lines. Below are photos showing the different overhead lines and their descriptions.

Electric and Communication Lines

Communication Lines

Communication lines
Communication lines, such as telephone and cable TV,
are the lowest lines on the pole. They are typically black
and thicker than any other lines. In most areas, PG&E
does not own or conduct maintenance on communication
wires. Contact your phone service provider for concerns
with communication lines.

Service drops
Service drops extend from the electric distribution
transformer or secondary line to homes or businesses.
California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) Electric
Service Rules require customers to maintain a clear
route, free of hazards for the electric service wire from
the pole to the service delivery point.

Secondary lines
Secondary lines are positioned above communication
lines and below the highest voltage distribution lines.
Typically these secondary lines carry 240 volts of
electricity to homes and businesses. PG&E performs
vegetation clearance on these lines when strain and
abrasion are evident, per CPUC General Order 95
(CPUC) requirements.

Distribution lines
Distribution lines deliver electricity to neighborhoods
and are generally supported by wooden poles. The voltage
of these lines generally ranges from four thousand
volts to 21 thousand volts. Under CPUC GO 95, these
lines require year-round clearance of a minimum of
18 inches, with lines in some rural areas requiring up
to four feet of clearance. PG&E utilizes directional
pruning techniques to maintain customer trees to
these requirements. Removal can be a preferred
option for tall or fast growing species.

Transmission lines
Transmission lines transport bulk electricity at high
voltages ranging from 60 thousand volts to 500 thousand
volts. These lines are generally supported on tall metal
towers, but may also be located on wooden poles.
Federal requirements require clearances around
transmission lines to prevent outages caused by
encroachment by trees and other vegetation. Our goal
is to achieve a sustainable landscape that supports
native plants and natural habitats. Trees near these
lines are difficult to effectively manage by continued
pruning, and often must be removed.

For information regarding trees and power lines, visit:

To contact PG&E, call 1-800-743-5000