Answers to frequently asked questions about vegetation control near power lines

Why does Hydro-Québec want to cut down trees that seem far from power lines?

The mandatory minimum distances between vegetation and the power lines depend on several factors:

  • Type of line: Electricity transmission lines (supported by towers or large wood poles) require greater clearance than distribution lines (on the wood poles you see in most residential neighborhoods).
  • Voltage: Transmission line voltages vary from 44,000 V to more than 765,000 V. The higher the voltage, the greater the distance should be between the vegetation and the lines.
  • Type of vegetation: It is important to plan for tree height at maturity. Some species grow too big to be left near electrical lines.
  • Tree health: A weak or sick tree can threaten the safety of the power grid.

Hydro-Québec’s forestry experts are in charge of determining what vegetation management measures should be taken near power lines. Remember that vegetation management work is essential to ensure safety and service reliability.

Can I clear a right-of-way located on my property myself?

Yes, under certain conditions. For example, the trees must not be too close to the power lines, and you must be able to guarantee the quality of the work.

If you want to do the work yourself, contact Hydro-Québec to express your interest as soon as you receive the letter informing you that work is imminent.

Can Hydro-Québec cut down a tree in a transmission line right-of-way that is on my property?

Yes. Hydro-Québec holds various rights in relation to the land on which its transmission lines are built. Those rights allow it to clear vegetation whenever and however it sees fit. Hydro-Québec’s forestry professionals determine what vegetation management methods are necessary to ensure safety and service continuity.

Can Hydro-Québec cut down a tree outside a transmission line right-of-way?

Yes, in some circumstances. For example, if a tree is weak or risks causing a power outage if it falls, we have to take action. Safety and service continuity must be ensured at all times.

On the Hydro-Québec Web site, there is a tool for choosing the right tree or shrub. Does it provide information relevant to transmission lines?

No. The “Choose the Right Tree or Shrub” tool indicates safe clearance distances for distribution lines. Before doing any work in a transmission line right-of-way, including planting vegetation, you must have written permission from Hydro-Québec. Remember: safety first!

Can I eat wild berries picked in a right-of-way where herbicides have been used?

It depends on the herbicide application method. Hydro‑Québec applies herbicide in two different ways

  • On leaves: it’s best not to eat the berries growing on the plants in a right‑of‑way. These areas are easy to identify: after the application, the leaves on the treated stems will dry out quickly and the berries will look shriveled.
  • On the stocks of freshly cut stems: there are no restrictions on eating the berries growing on the treated plant.

For all application methods, there are no restrictions on eating the plants growing in rights-of-way that were treated over a year ago.

How does Hydro‑Québec control the height of vegetation in transmission line rights-of-way

Hydro-Québec cut down an ash tree in a right-of-way on my property. Am I responsible for disposing of the debris?

If your property is located in an area infested by the emerald ash borer, it’s your responsibility as the landowner to dispose of the tree debris (trunk, large branches, etc.) in accordance with the applicable regulations.

Municipalities affected by the spread of the emerald ash borer often have specific procedures in place for handling and processing this plant waste. For more information, contact your municipality or visit its Web site.

You can also consult the Web site of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), which designs and manages programs to mitigate risks associated with animal and plant diseases as well as with invasive plant pests like the emerald ash borer.