Maintenance of overhead electric lines is necessary to provide access to facilities, reliability of service and safety to the public and cooperative employees. During storms, trees are a leading cause of power interruptions to our members. Trees may cause lengthy, sustained outages or momentary outages (blinks) that affect many digital appliances and commercial equipment. Rights-of-way that are overgrown with trees and brush also limit access of line technicians and trucks when repairs or restoration of service is necessary. Trees that are contacting energized electric facilities also present a safety hazard to the public and cooperative employees.
Our line clearing crews are trained to recognize hazardous conditions. They know different tree species and understand how their growth patterns can cause line clearance problems in the future.
If we are to manage rights-of-way effectively, your cooperation is essential and very much appreciated!
The following is the clearing specifications for effective rights-of-way vegetation management:
In general, all tall-growing species will be cut to a width 20 feet either side of the line (15 feet for single phase lines with no cross-arm on the pole). Dead or dying trees that are located beyond the R/W edge may be removed if they are deemed a hazard. Trees with severe lean toward the line, and beyond the R/W edge, may also be removed. The brush and wood will be piled along the side of the rights-of-way. If trees will contact the line within the next five years they will be cut. You will be contacted if it is necessary to remove danger trees (of merchantable value) that are located beyond the normal clearing zone.
Smaller brush stems will be treated with a herbicide rather than cut, while stumps will be treated with a herbicide to prevent re-growth.
Some areas will be cleared with a large brush-mowing machine. All stems will be mowed and subsequent stump sprouts will be treated with a herbicide application one to two growing seasons following the clearing.
Clearing of all trees 10 feet either side of the line. Large mature trees and low-growing ornamental or fruit trees are exceptions to the specification. Trimming clearance is typically 10 feet underneath and to the side of the line, while all offending branches are removed above the line. Brush will be chipped and the wood will be left for the homeowner. A representative will be in contact you prior to the work, if the tree is a good candidate for removal.
Modifications of Tree Clearing Standards in Urban/Residential Areas
Options to modify rights-of-way clearing may be offered to individual landowners or groups of adjacent landowners that object to clearing standards. The cooperative seeks to enable individual members to choose methods for rights-of-way clearance that best address their concerns, while preventing the burden of cost for use of non-standard procedures from being placed upon all members.
Trimming of Trees / Shrubs
Members may choose to pay for actual costs of regular trimming of trees/shrubs located within rights-of-way, rather than having the trees/shrubs removed. Trimming will be conducted in a manner that provides for 10 feet of clearance on all sides of the line. If this option is chosen, clearing of undergrowth (if present), at our cost, will be performed to allow a minimum of 8 feet access to lines along the ground for our crews. Members who choose this option must pay for trimming within 30 days of agreement, or the cooperative will remove the trees/shrubs located within the right-of-way. The cost of trimming must be paid before the work is completed and must be paid every trimming cycle (or as necessary as determined by the cooperative to enable regular maintenance of line clearance). If the landowner declines to pay for trimming at a later date, the trees/shrubs located within the rights-of-way will be removed.
Relocation of Lines
Where consistent with cooperative service rules and regulations, rerouting of lines or installing lines underground at the member’s expense will be considered.
Transplanting/Replacement of Trees/Shrubs & Stump Grinding
Subject to agreement with the landowner, the cooperative may assume or share reasonable costs for replacement or transplantation of trees/shrubs. Replacement of trees/shrubs will be limited to landscape (planted trees in mowed lawn) trees. Trees/shrubs must be replaced with an approved species planted at an appropriate distance from the line. No more than one replacement tree/shrub will be allowed for each tree removed. The cooperative may assume or share reasonable costs for stump grinding. Stump grinding will be limited to landscape trees.
Summer Brush Control
During the months of June through September, crews perform a foliar herbicide application to brush that is occupying the power line rights-of-way. This is typically performed two growing seasons after the line is cleared. Generally, low-growing brush such as hazelnut, dogwoods, plum, etc. is not treated. All herbicides are classified as general-use by the EPA. All applicators are licensed by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, Consumer Protection. Only herbicides that are specifically registered for aquatic use are applied to wetland areas.
Crews may need to access the work by driving on your property. Vehicles will utilize the utility right-of-way or other established roads or lanes which may exist.
No Herbicide Use Request
The cooperative will honor an individual request for no herbicide use under the following circumstances:
If the landowner agrees to maintain the rights-of-way in such a manner as to keep the power lines and any related equipment owned by the cooperative free and clear of obstructing trees and brush. If the landowner fails to perform the necessary tree and brush clearing in the future, the cooperative will perform the clearing, as deemed necessary, using mechanical or herbicide methods.
If the landowner agrees to pay for the cost of the cooperative’s clearing crews to clear the rights-of-way manually, without the use of herbicides.
The landowner must enter into a written agreement with the cooperative to request no herbicide use.