All About Power Line Rights-of-Way

This all-terrain trimmer, called a giraffe, can maintain many more miles of power line right-of-way in a week than a worker in a bucket truck. The boom with its saw can reach heights of 50 feet and more.
This all-terrain trimmer, called a giraffe, can maintain many more miles of power line right-of-way in a week than a worker in a bucket truck. The boom with its saw can reach heights of 50 feet and more.

Having great service from your co-op is a delicate balancing act.

That balancing act is between a safe and reliable power grid and the desires of property owners when it comes to trees and other vegetation.

Fortunately, most Walton EMC customer-owners are cooperative when contract trimming crews come around to maintain power line rights-of-way that cross their property (about once every three to five years depending on where you’re located).

But you’re not only helping yourself when you allow right-of-way crews to do their job; you’re also helping your neighbors. Your untrimmed trees can affect their electric service. For example, an oak tree can grow 8 feet in just one year if rain is abundant.

Almost always, it’s better to completely remove a threatening tree rather than severely trimming the top. When a tree is “topped,” it puts all its energy into making leaves. The other parts of the tree suffer, opening the door to things like diseases, beetles and borers.

If you let our crews remove a threatening tree, we’ll replace it with a species that won’t cause power line conflicts when it matures.

Right-of-Way Dimensions

Right-of-Way Specifics

Your co-op has an easement on each side of our power lines. It’s apparent that you wouldn’t want to plant trees in a power line easement. What’s not apparent to many homeowners is that it’s not a good idea to plant expensive shrubs or ornamentals there, either.

That’s because Walton EMC’s heavy trucks may need to travel up and down our easement if lines are down or poles are broken during a storm. Your co-op can’t replace shrubs or other vegetation that’s planted in our easement damaged during the course of maintenance or repair.

Walton EMC’s power line right-of-way is not necessarily the same as the road right-of-way. Although Walton EMC tries to use the same right-of-way as the highway, it’s not always possible.

Other Rights-of-Way

Walton EMC’s overhead lines aren’t the only things affected by errant planting. We also need a clear space around underground transformers, pole bottoms and meters.

For instance, if crews have to repair underground wiring, the first thing line technicians do is open our big green boxes out at the street. If a homeowner plants shrubs too close, they’ll be cut.

This doesn’t happen because we’re mean. Inside that green box, or transformer, our line technicians deal with several thousand volts of electricity right at their fingertips.

Poles are routinely inspected and treated for rot prevention at ground level. If plants are in the way, they’ll also be removed.

Although these small Leyland cypress trees don't look imposing now, they can grow to almost 50 feet in only 16 years. That means they'll be growing into the power lines above in 10 years or less. Even before that, they'll hamper workers attempting to restore power. Because of their shallow roots, Leyland cypress tend to topple over.
Although these small Leyland cypress trees don't look imposing now, they can grow to almost 50 feet in only 16 years. That means they'll be growing into the power lines above in 10 years or less. Even before that, they'll hamper workers attempting to restore power. Because of their shallow roots, Leyland cypress tend to topple over.

Three-Step Process

Keeping Walton EMC's rights-of-way clear and accessible occurs in three stages:

  1. Limbs and trees that pose a threat to overhead lines are trimmed or removed.
  2. The ground beneath the lines is cut with a rotary more if necessary.
  3. Remaining vegetation and stumps are treated to inhibit growth.

Clean Power Lines Benefit You

Cooperating with Walton EMC in maintaining clear power line rights of way provides these advantages:

  • lower costs
  • fewer annoying blinks and surges
  • fewer power outages
  • quicker restoration if the lights do go out

Tree Planting Guide