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Talking Trees: Help Us Keep the Power Flowing

Keeping your power on 24/7/365 is job one at Walton EMC. Minimizing vegetation around our distribution lines is one way we achieve this level of reliability.

As Walton EMC’s right-of-way (ROW) coordinator, it’s Eric Floyd’s job to see that trees don’t grow too close to the co-op’s electric lines. Tree limbs that come in contact with power lines cause about 80 percent of electrical outages, Walton EMC engineers estimate. If limbs break and fall, which frequently happens during Georgia’s stormy seasons, they can bring power lines down with them.

“We all love beautiful trees, but not at the expense of sitting in the dark — and maybe extreme hot or cold — while co-op linemen fix lines that have been torn down by falling trees,” Eric said.

Eric Floyd,
Right-of-Way Coordinator

Eric oversees the ROW teams responsible for maintaining 7,000 miles of power lines, trimming every section once every four years. This helps the co-op maintain an exceptional 99.99 percent reliability.

Co-op members can do their part to keep Walton EMC’s rights-of-way clear and accessible, Eric reminds.

He encourages members to always check ROW guidelines at customer-service/power-line-rights-of-way before planting trees and shrubbery near power lines.

He also urges members to look up at their service wire, the line that runs from the co-op’s transformer and distribution line to a home or business. If a tree’s branches are near or already touching the service wire, members should contact the co-op to request a courtesy pruning.

“Our chief responsibility is maintaining the right-of-way for primary electric lines, but we’re happy to help our members by providing expert, safe tree trimming for individual service wires,” Eric said. Members should never attempt clearing vegetation from live power lines; it is extremely dangerous.

A crew will usually arrive within three business days to handle the pruning project. They do not clean up or haul away the resulting brush from a service line trim.

“While we do clean up from primary line trimming, it’s a common misconception that we also pick up the debris from a service line trim. That’s the responsibility of the customer-owner,” the coordinator said.


In this month’s Walton EMC blog, Eric answers your questions about ROW management.