Tree Pruning

Storms and wind can cause trees to fall or branches to bend or break into electrical wires. Since trees are a potential conductor of electricity, trees that are touching an energized wire could cause electrocution. In addition, limbs, even small ones, that grow into and touch a high voltage electric line could cause a short circuit, electrical outage or fire. If branches are too close to high-voltage lines, an electric arc or flash between the two can cause an outage or fire.

If you see trees or branches that have come into contact with power lines, please report the situation to MGE by calling (608) 252-7111. Do not attempt to remove the tree branch or limbs close to power lines on your own.

Line clearance overview

MGE contracts with Hooper to prune trees and remove saplings that are close to, or may grow into, our electric lines. Regular line clearance tree work helps to keep you safe and to keep your electric service reliable. Pruning is supervised by MGE ISA certified arborists. In general, we follow these guidelines:

  • Trees along a circuit or group of circuits are pruned every four to five growing seasons. The circuits don't necessarily follow a specific street or encompass a whole neighborhood.
  • Each tree is assessed individually for the amount of pruning needed to make safe clearance from the lines; species, location and wire type are all taken into account and can affect the amount of pruning.
  • Electric service lines (pole to house wires) will be checked for tree conflicts at the same time; only small branches making hard contact or deflecting the wire path will be pruned.
  • We follow International Society of Arboriculture, American National A300 Pruning Standards.
  • Oak trees are pruned in the dormant season, generally between November 1 and April 1, when there is little danger of oak wilt infection.

Notification and pruning process

  1. utility pole

    When an area is due for maintenance pruning, every resident with overhead electric lines will receive an MGE postcard or door hanger to notify them that an arborist will be in the neighborhood soon. 
  2. An arborist assesses all the lines in that area for pruning and/or sapling removal. If your yard or trees need pruning, or if you have saplings to be removed, the arborist will hang a door card to notify you of the intended work. 
  3. If your property or specific trees need significant pruning, we'll contact you to discuss the requested prunings. If we must remove a tree, we will ask for your permission. 
  4. Once all customers on a block or line segment have been notified, the work will be performed by Hooper tree crews. The tree crews will not knock or make further contact before entering a yard unless requested by a property owner or homeowner during the arborist notification stage (see #2 above). 
  5. We will haul away and chip brush and woody debris; if large branches are pruned, the wood is left on site for your use as firewood. An arborist will discuss any possible firewood with you prior to pruning.

Storm and emergency response overview

  • Pole-to-pole primary and secondary wires: We will clear broken, uprooted or otherwise damaged trees and branches from our facilities to make the situation safe for restoration of your electric service; we do not make finishing pruning cuts on broken branches we have removed. 
  • Pole-to-house wires: We will clear broken, uprooted or otherwise damaged trees and branches immediately impacting the wire. Some situations may require disconnection of the wire and a temporary loss of power for the work to be done quickly and safely.
  • Brush, woody debris and wood disposal: Our goal is to restore power as quickly and safely as possible; oftentimes power cannot be restored until broken or damaged trees are removed from our facilities. Line clearance tree crews are an integral part of this process. Since restoring power is our main priority, we are unable to move, remove or chip brush or wood related to storm or emergency tree pruning.

Customer pruning

If you have a tree you think is in conflict with MGE lines, please call MGE Customer Service at (608) 252-7222. A work order will be created and an ISA Certified Arborist will respond to your concern. 

If you have a tree you would like removed and it is near MGE lines, we recommend contacting a residential tree services contractor first. Then, Hooper will work with your contractor to ensure safe removal of the tree.  


Please call MGE Customer Service at (608) 252-7222 if you have questions or concerns about our tree work. Our ISA Certified Arborist will respond.