Detroit Edison line-clearance crews will be working in 39 Southeastern Michigan communities in January and February, continuing their year-round effort to maintain service reliability by keeping trees and branches away from power lines.

"We trim trees for two very important reasons -- to ensure our customers have dependable electric service and to prevent safety hazards," said Vince Dow, DTE Energy vice president of Distribution Operations. "By maintaining a 10-foot clearance between tree branches and our power lines, we can significantly reduce tree-related power outages."

Tree interference is responsible for about two-thirds of the power outages that occur during storms. That's why Detroit Edison employs more than 500 professional tree trimmers to maintain the estimated 3.5 million trees in its service territory.

The company's tree-trimming crews follow International Society of Arboriculture standards to maintain the health of trees. The company has received the National Tree Line USA Award for quality tree care for 12 consecutive years.

"Our goals are to keep customers' trees alive, healthy and out of harm's way," explained Dow. "The directional pruning method we use removes only the branches that pose a threat to power lines, and helps ensure that future growth is directed away from power lines. After we trim, trees are less susceptible to disease and insect problems, and because they're stronger, they're more resistant to high winds and heavy ice."

Detroit Edison removes from customer property the small branches and debris that result from its tree trimming work. Larger trimmed branches are cut into firewood length and left behind for customer use or disposal. Detroit Edison will not, however, remove diseased tree debris.

Debris caused by a severe storm also is not removed. In the aftermath of a storm, Detroit Edison crews must work quickly to remove downed wire hazards and restore power to thousands of customers. They will cut broken and uprooted trees in order to reach locations that need repair. In such emergency situations, customers are advised to contact their local Department of Public Works, trash collector or a professional tree-removal company for advice on disposing of debris.

Customers are responsible for keeping tree branches away from their service drops, the lines that run from utility poles to their homes. Although the voltage running through the service drop is significantly lower than that of pole-to-pole wires, Detroit Edison recommends that customers hire a professional tree service to do this trimming.