There are many ways that Norris Electric provides you with safe, reliable electric service. One of the most common - and crucial - ways is referred to as right-of-way clearing (or vegetation management). A right of way (ROW) refers to a strip of land underneath or around power lines that your electric cooperative has the right and responsibility to maintain and clear. Trees must grow at a distance far enough from conductors where they will not cause harm to individuals or disruption to electrical service. Specifications can vary, but a general guideline of maintaining a safe ROW is 15 feet of clearance on either side of the primary conductors and 20 feet of overhead clearance above the highest wire on the pole.
Clearing the ROW is critical to keeping our members' lights on. An average of 40 percent of power interruptions occur when trees, shrubs or bushes grow too close to power lines. If a tree encroaches on this safe distance, our vegetation management team will trim back branches and brush using chainsaws, bucket trucks, tree climbers, brush chippers and mowers. Chemical control methods can also be used as a way to support the growth of low growing plant species that will outcompete the tall trees growing beneath power lines.
ROW clearing also keeps your family safe by ensuring that tree branches do not become energized due to close contact with a downed power line. Power lines can carry up to 34,500 volts, and an energized tree branch is incredibly dangerous - even deadly. Be mindful when around trees close to power lines, and make sure your children know that climbing trees near power lines is extremely dangerous. ROW clearing is also critical to ensuring that we provide members with affortdable electricity. Staying ahead of the game keeps us from having to come out after a storm to restore power due to fallen trees.