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NOVEC says plant energy saving trees for Earth Day but not near power lines

Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative suggests that homeowners celebrate Earth Day on April 22 and Virginia’s Arbor Day on April 27 by planting energy-saving trees–but not near power lines and equipment.

“Trees add beauty and value to a home, but they also help the environment,” Bob James, NOVEC energy services specialist was quoted as saying in a news release. “Trees absorb carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and, properly placed, they help homeowners save energy. We know that customers who have shade trees on the sunny sides of their homes and evergreen trees on their north and western sides have lower energy bills.”

Call 811, Miss Utility, before digging says Rick Carpenter, NOVEC’s manager of Vegetation Management, says,. He was quoted in the news release as saying, “Before picking up the shovel to plant a tree, call Miss Utility at 811. Workers will mark the location of all underground utility lines. Also, consider the mature size of the tree: You want to keep roots away from the underground utility cables.”

Carpenter suggests homeowners consider how tall and wide a tree will become at maturity when selecting a tree: “Trees should shade a house, but not spread over it. Otherwise, tree branches may break during storms and damage the roof or siding.”

For neighborhoods with overhead power lines, Carpenter was quoted as saying, “Homeowners are not allowed to plant trees in NOVEC’s right-of-way areas. We may remove them without notice. When planting in yards, use the number of feet the tree will grow to at maturity as the number of feet to plant it away from right-of-way areas. By heeding these guidelines, homeowners help prevent power outages from occurring during storms. Trees and branches that fell on power lines during Winter Storm Riley on March 2 caused power outages for almost 900,000 people in the Washington, D.C., region.”

Recommended Trees for Northern Virginia

The National Arbor Day Foundation recommends planting deciduous trees for shade because when they drop their leaves in autumn they will allow the sun’s solar heat to pass through branches to warm a home in winter. Some tree specialists in Northern Virginia say oak, maple, and Japanese Zelkova trees provide excellent shade on the eastern and southern sides of a house. Cherry, crabapple, dogwood, saucer magnolia, and other small and medium trees block low, intense sunshine on the western side.

For winter energy-savings, the foundation says to plant solid rows of evergreens on the northern and western sides of the property. Carpenter says tree experts recommend Canadian hemlock, Leyland cypress, pine, eastern red cedar, and Chinese holly trees for Northern Virginia yards when gardeners incorporate soil amendment into clay soil.

Carpenter recommends reviewing landscaping guidelines and a helpful video at .


NOVEC, headquartered in Manassas, Virginia, is a not-for-profit corporation that provides electricity to more than 168,000 metered customers in Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William, Stafford, and Clarke counties, the City of Manassas Park, and the Town of Clifton. The utility is the largest electric co-op in Virginia and one of the largest electric cooperatives in the United States. For more information, visit or ca,ll 703-335-0500 or 1-888-335-0500. 

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