Right-Of-Way Q & A

Trimming treesAnswers to your questions on tree trimming and planting around power lines

Q: Why does Walton EMC have to trim trees around power lines?

A: Keeping plant growth a reasonable distance from our lines keeps your electric service reliable. Limbs brushing against our lines can cause blinks and temporary outages. A blink can cause havoc with your computer system and possibly cause the loss of valuable and expensive data.

If limbs that overhang our lines are properly managed, you're also less likely to have a prolonged outage when storms come to call. The major cause of a storm related outage is when ice or wind breaks limbs that bring our lines crashing down.

But the most important reason to keep trees trimmed away from power lines is safety. No one wants a tree close enough to a power line that would allow a playful child to climb up and be in danger.

Q: What can happen if I don't cooperate with Walton EMC in trimming my trees?

A: You're likely to experience power quality problems and longer than necessary storm-related outages. It takes three to four times longer to restore your power if our crews have to work around untrimmed or topped trees. Also, trees or limbs that fall on your property can affect your neighbors' electric service. And you could be held liable if a child in a tree on your property contacts a power line.

Trees and power lines Q: How often do you trim the trees along the co-op's lines?

A: Walton EMC follows a five-year plan. That is, we try to reach every line on our system within five years; then we start again. Walton EMC maintains about 7,000 miles of lines. If you stretched them end to end, they'd reach to Seattle and back!

Q: How wide is the path you trim along a power line?

A: By law, Walton EMC has right-of-way 15 feet either side of our line. This right-of-way also gives us a path to maintain or repair the co-op's lines. If you think about it, 15 feet is not much room to maneuver a 60-foot bucket truck or other large equipment if we have to do major line repair.

We cooperate with landowners and homeowners in determining just how much trimming is necessary in the co-op's right-of-way. If our line is there, your co-op has a legal right to trim it.

If our line runs along a road or highway, the road right-of-way and power line right-of-way probably cover different areas.

Q: Do you trim along the line that directly connects to my home?

A: If a tree threatens your service wire, we'll be glad to disconnect it while tree surgeons remove the tree.

Down trees

Q: What happens to the limbs you remove on my property?

A: They're immediately chipped and later used as recycled mulch. Don't worry; the crews clean up after themselves!

Q: The crews I've noticed trimming trees along Walton EMC's lines aren't in Walton EMC trucks? Are they co-op employees?

A: Walton EMC contracts with experienced national companies to do its right-of-way maintenance. Hiring contract crews saves money; that keeps rates down. The right-of-way contract is re-bid every year, making sure we get the most competitive pricing.

These contract crews are highly skilled, properly equipped and under the supervision of specialized Walton EMC employees whose sole responsibility is maintenance of the co-op's right-of-way.

You can see representative photos of our contractors here.

Q: While you're here, can you trim some of my other trees?

A: Sorry, but Walton EMC doesn't offer a tree trimming service for the public. Liability concerns prevent us from trimming trees not on the power line right-of-way or not interfering with the electrical distribution system.

Q: How far away from power lines should I plant trees and shrubs?

Tree Planting Guide

A: See the diagram here for suggestions. Keep in mind, though, any planting directly under power lines can hamper the movement of employees and equipment working to restore your power after an outage.

Q: The electric lines serving my house are underground. Is it okay to plant shrubs to hide the green box (transformer) in my front yard?

A: Just as our overhead lines need clearance, so do our underground facilities. Keep shrubs at least ten feet from the sides and backs of our underground transformers; don't plant anything directly in front. It hampers our crews making outage repairs if they have to first trim shrubs to gain access to our equipment. It also wastes your money to plant nice shrubs just to have them cut down when we're restoring your power.