Southern Rivers Energy’s mission is to provide safe, reliable power at the most affordable cost possible and to improve the quality of life for co-op members and the communities it serves. Our right-of-way maintenance, or tree trimming, program plays a major role in helping us fulfill this mission.
What is Right-of-Way?
Right-of-way refers to the corridor or pathway an electric line follows, whether it’s along the road or through the woods. R-O-W provides utility crews with access to lines for improvements, maintenance, and repairs. It also provides an operational safety zone between the electric lines and trees, buildings, etc.
Each SRE member agrees in the membership application to grant SRE a right-of-way easement, giving us permission to cut and keep clear all trees within 40 feet from primary power lines and within four feet from secondary and service lines. The secondary line is the line going from the transformer to the pole closest to your house, and the service line comes from the pole to your house. This is extremely important because a clear R-O-W minimizes outages and improves power quality, reliability and safety.
To accomplish a three-year clearing cycle, SRE must continuously re-clear the electrical rights-of-way of trees and brush. Proper re-clearing consists of removing trees, yard trees, mowing underbrush, controlling vegetation growth, and trimming limbs that extend into the right-of-way. The image to the right showing the cedar trees growing around the utility poles and up toward the power lines is an example of why proper planning and right-of-way clearing is essential. During a storm, accessing and repairing this section of powerline would be extremely difficult and power restoration would take much longer than necessary.
Trees and Power Lines Don’t Mix
Larger trees planted around utility rights-of-way create a safety hazard by providing children an opportunity to play near power lines. When a tree limb touches a power line, there is a definite possibility of shock to or electrocution of a child or adult touching or climbing the tree.
Trees located in a utility right-of-way increase the possibility of power outages and blinks. They also cause delays during power restoration because fallen trees and debris must be cleared before crews can gain access to poles or lines damaged during a storm.
Nothing adds beauty and value to a home like trees. Besides offering significant energy savings by providing summer shade and winter protection, trees help absorb noise, provide privacy, freshen and replenish the atmosphere and attract wildlife.
When deciduous trees, those that lose their leaves in the fall, are planted on the west and southwest sides of the house, they shade roof and wall surfaces in summer and provide natural air conditioning in your house. In the winter, the bare branches will let most of the sunshine through to warm the house.
A windbreak of evergreens planted on the north and west sides of your house can help achieve energy savings during the winter.