Southside Electric Cooperative (SEC) recognizes the valuable asset trees can be in our landscapes. Trees can provide protection from wind, shade in the summer, provide visual buffers, and habitat for various wildlife. However, when trees are planted or grow within, or in close proximity to, electric right-of-ways not only are these benefits greatly reduced or completely eliminated, but hazards to safe and reliable electric service are created. Trees are the number one cause of power outages on SEC ’s distribution system. When trees contact live wires they can create power outages and fires, and are a danger to anyone who may come into contact with the trees.
In order to provide safe and reliable electricity to all members, SEC has a Vegetation Management Program that works to keep the proper line to vegetation clearances, reduce the amount of incompatible vegetation beneath the lines, and work with members to remove trees on their properties that require frequent trimming, pose a risk of becoming in contact with lines, or reduce accessibility to equipment. SEC requests that members never plant any trees directly under or near overhead power lines. Doing so will require future trimming and possible removal of the tree, which in turn will reduce or eliminate any benefits sought by planting the tree. We encourage members to enhance their properties with trees and vegetation outside the established right-of-way.
Side-Trimming and Line Maintenance
Southside Electric Cooperative maintains Transmission right-of-ways up to one hundred (100) feet wide depending on line voltage. Distribution lines, which are the most commonly seen lines on the system, have thirty (30) to forty (40) feet wide right-of-ways depending on line voltage and year of establishment. All new Distribution right-of-ways are forty (40) feet wide. Transmission and Distribution lines are maintained by Line Clearance Contractors on approximately a six (6) year cycle and by Time & Material Crews that conduct off-cycle work as needed. Service drops (the line that runs from the transformer to the home) and dusk-to-dawn lights require minimal clearances of approximately a five (5) foot radius and are only trimmed by Line Clearance Contractors on regularly scheduled cycle work.
Starting in 2011 Southside Electric Cooperative began a system wide effort to conduct all trimming to the ANSI A300 pruning specifications which are recognized industry wide. These trimming practices allow utilities to obtain their necessary line clearances in a way that reduces the overall detrimental affects to the trees’ health. Line Clearance Contractors that are hired to complete the trimming are overseen by International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) and Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) Certified Arborists to ensure these standards are followed.
In addition to trimming trees to the designated line clearances on these circuits, crews will be removing any live brush from within the right-of-way, vines off equipment, trees that have grown within the right-of-way, and any dead, diseased, damaged, or structurally unsound trees that pose a significant hazard to the overhead power lines. Southside Electric Cooperative and Line Clearance Contractors will also be working to contact Members and work with them to remove yard trees planted within the right-of-way.
Members will receive a mailed notification letter prior to regularly scheduled line maintenance activities.
Herbicide Application and Brush Control
Southside Electric Cooperative began using herbicides to control brush within right-of-ways in 2008. Circuits are re-treated every four years to address any new trees that have begun to grow within the right-of-way. Selective herbicides and low-volume application methods are used to target saplings, vines, and other woody plants that can potentially grow tall enough to interfere with the power lines, grow on poles and equipment, or obstruct access to the right-of-ways. Only areas with undesirable vegetation that can potentially interfere with electric service are treated.
All herbicides used on the system have been tested and approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Contractors hired to complete the herbicide applications are Registered Technicians and supervised by a Certified Commercial Applicator. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services administers the exam to obtain these certifications and maintains a registry of licensed applicators.
T/M Danger Tree Removal
- System Wide
Information About Herbicide Used:
"SEC’s Vegetation-Management Program: Growing Reliability," featured in the May 2015 issue of Cooperative Living Magazine:
"Yard Tree Trimming: A Balance of Beauty and Reliability," featured in the March/April 2016 issue of Cooperative Living Magazine:
The Vegetation Management Team
SEC's vegetation management program is overseen by the following individuals, and any questions concerning these programs can be addressed to their attention:
Louis Urbine, Contractor Administrator
Phone (434) 645-2511
Lauren Fleming, Vegetation Management Supervisor
Phone (434) 645-3115