City Council Greenlights Additional Tree Trimming Funding for Austin Energy

March 7, 2024

The Austin City Council approved a contract extension that will add up to $28 million in funding for tree trimming and vegetation management around Austin Energy electrical distribution lines through the end of Fiscal Year 2024. Funding on the current contracts has depleted more quickly than expected due to contract rate adjustments and multiple weather events.

The contract extension involves the utility’s three primary tree trimming partners: Asplundh Tree Expert LLC, Davey Tree Surgery Co., and Wright Tree Service, Inc. The additional funding aids Austin Energy’s efforts at ensuring the public’s safety, reducing wildfire risk and protecting the utility’s infrastructure and ability to serve customers.

“Austin Energy greatly appreciates the City Council’s continued support of the utility’s tree trimming efforts,” said Elton Richards, Austin Energy Vice President of Electrical System Field Operations. “We’ve added additional crews within the initial budget to ensure that we meet our timeline commitments and increase reliability for our community.”

By the end of 2028, the goal is to have all 305 Austin Energy circuits back to industry tree trimming standards and a new plan in place for a five-year maintenance cycle. One circuit can run anywhere from under a mile to nearly 40 miles of vegetation.


Austin Energy’s Vegetation Management team works to keep approximately 5,000 miles of overhead line clear all throughout our 437-square-mile service area. Keeping clearances leads to fewer fires and outages, so this is critical to keep the community charged up and safe. It’s important work, but it’s not always clear-cut. Crews often have to balance labor shortages, a thorough customer communication process and complicated trimming windows that take oak wilt and bird habitat into consideration.

This past year, Austin Energy crews trimmed 27 circuits, the most we’ve been able to clear in two years. That ended up being around 180 miles of line trimmed — or the distance between Austin and Corpus Christi.

Standard clearances:

  • Fast-growing species (e.g., Ligustrum, China Berry, Hackberry, and Pecan): 15 ft.
  • Slow-growing species (e.g., Cedar, Cedar Elm, and Juniper): 10 ft.

Factors we consider when trimming trees:

  • Tree species
  • Time of year
  • Oak wilt and bird habitats — We make every effort to avoid trimming red oak and live oak trees between February and June when oak wilt is more likely to spread. To protect bird habitat areas, when possible, we avoid trimming from March to September (applies to undeveloped areas west of MoPac).
  • Circuit, line fuses and customer ticket requests — We trim trees along a circuit from beginning to end on maintenance schedules. We trim trees along a line fuse section or area identified in a ticket request. If a portion of the circuit or line fuse is not trimmed and a tree limb falls on the line, the entire area may experience a power outage.

About Austin Energy
Customer Driven. Community Focused.

Austin Energy, the City of Austin’s electric utility, serves more than 500,000 customer accounts and more than one million residents in Greater Austin. The utility’s mission — to safely deliver clean, affordable, reliable energy and excellent customer service — has guided Austin Energy in powering the community and supporting the region’s growth since 1895. For more information about Austin Energy, visit