In performing vegetation management, tree crews must consider public welfare (electric reliability) with tree aesthetics. When these two desirable goals conflict, public welfare must take priority. The ultimate purpose of pruning and removing trees near our lines is to minimize electrical hazards and reduce power interruptions.
We hire professional vegetation management companies to assist with clearing trees and vegetation away from electric power lines. We hope the following information will help answer any questions you may have concerning the maintenance of our facilities.
To ensure reliable electrical service to our customers, we have either acquired or been granted a legal right to access lands owned by other parties in order to change or maintain our facilities. The right to access these lands for such purposes is called an easement.
Easements, which are legal contracts, are generally passed along with deeds of property ownership. If you want to know if your property includes an easement, or what terms the easement includes, check with your county Auditor's Office.
Public utility company provisions
State laws require public utility companies provide adequate service to our customers. To meet this obligation, we must ensure that our transmission and distribution lines are adequately maintained and free of obstructions. During routine inspections, we sometimes find tree branches and limbs growing into our transmission or distribution lines. Such situations may cause interruptions in electric service. In some cases, pruning the troublesome branches and limbs is enough to correct the situation. However, sometimes it is necessary to remove an entire tree.
Our transmission and distribution lines and poles are often located within a public right-of-way, such as along a road or highway. If a tree located on a property along such public right-of-way grows into our lines, we are legally permitted to prune or remove the tree causing the obstruction. This is true regardless of whether we possess an easement across the property.
Emergency situations and immediate threats
If a line-clearance expert determines that an emergency safety hazard or a threat of immediate loss of electric service exists, we may decide to enter a property and commence tree pruning or removal immediately without prior notice to the property owner. Generally, courts have agreed that the right of the general public to receive electric service supersedes the right of an individual property owner to have trees on his or her land left untouched.
Storm Damage & Downed Limbs
Our vegetation management program helps minimize storm damage and power outages. However, the program does not clean up trees and limbs downed by storms. When emergency efforts to restore power require the removal of trees or limbs from power lines, the trees or limbs are left in as safe a manner as conditions allow.
Cleaning up debris left by storms or emergency restoration work is the responsibility of property owners.
For more electrical tips and guidelines on downed power lines, visit Downed Power Lines & Electrical Emergencies.
Wood Disposal & Stump Removal
After a tree is pruned or removed, small tree limbs and branches are run through a chipper and hauled away. Wood chips are available, free of charge, in areas where our vegetation management crews are working. Chips are available only by the truckload, approximately 10 cubic yards (enough to cover a 10-foot x 100-foot area, 3-4 inches deep). If one of our vegetation management crews is working in your area and you want to arrange for delivery, please contact us.
Wood that is too large for the chipper is cut into manageable lengths and left on the property, near the base of the tree. Disposal or use of all such wood is the property owner's responsibility.
In most cases, stumps will be cut off flush with the ground. Trees that are located in fencerows or that contain metal, cement, rocks, etc. will be cut above the interfering material. Generally, vegetation management crews do not remove stumps or roots of trees, although this service may be available at a minimal cost to property owners in some areas.
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