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Right of Way Maintenance

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This section will discuss the reliability improvement plans to DEMCO's seven (7) parish service area for its Right-of-Way Department.

Since 1938, DEMCO has been providing safe and reliable service to our customers within its service area, which is located in and around Baton Rouge, Louisiana. We have employed various methods and techniques for right-of-way maintenance over the years. Since 1993, however, the DEMCO Right-of-Way Department has adopted a more professional approach to right-of-way maintenance that includes mechanical tree trimming, selective use of herbicides, and natural control methods.

Maintenance is scheduled and performed on a circuit basis with an emphasis on the removal of trees that are located within the right-of-way and pruning trees that are located on the outer limits of the right-of-way. Shortly after the mechanical operation is performed, a follow-up herbicide application is used to control unwanted tree and brush species that pose safety and reliability hazards. Growth of native grasses and wildflowers start to occur in the rights-of-way and begin to naturally compete with unwanted tree and brush species.

This method has provided DEMCO the opportunity to meet our primary objective for right-of-way maintenance - safe clearances around energized conductors and providing low cost, reliable power to members of the cooperative. Our overriding goal of providing safe clearances between vegetation and energized conductors is the reason for our right-of-way program. Safe clearances must not only be achieved at the time of pruning but must be maintained over the length of the cycle, which is five (5) years. While providing safe clearances, we are also able to promote native Louisiana plant communities that provide early successional habitat to many of our wildlife species.

Over the years because of invasive, non-native plants like privet (Ligustrum spp.) and Chinese tallow (Sapium sebiferum), much of the prairie type habitat has been lost. These plants, as well as other invasive plants, have eliminated many acres that are used by quail and turkey. The loss of this type of habitat is one of the biggest problems facing our southern forests. In Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, and Arkansas, nearly 99% of the acres originally in prairie types have been lost. Through the use of professional vegetation management, DEMCO is attempting to reverse that trend by promoting utility corridors that provide habitat for many wildlife species.

In addition to selective herbicide applications, it has been the practice of DEMCO to remove trees that are located within the utility right-of-way. This in turn removes trees that will never have the opportunity to grow and develop naturally, while also making the right-of-way more aesthetically pleasing. In normal forest conditions, the lowest limbs are pruned naturally because they receive the least amount of sunlight and contribute the least to net photosynthetic production. Consequently, it is neither good for the tree or the forest to remove the main part of the tree’s live crown. Due to rapid re-growth of trees in response to heavy pruning, trees that are located within the utility right-of-way will accelerate in growth to assume their natural shape. This makes it very difficult to provide proper clearances over the entire pruning cycle. Without proper clearances maintained, trees present an unnecessary climbing hazard for young children and adults.

All electric utilities have an obligation to provide safe clearances around trees and energized conductors throughout their system. All public utilities located in the state of Louisiana are mandated by the Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC). DEMCO currently has a "Right-of-Way Line Clearance Manual" on file wiht the LPSC. This manual was updated in April 2011 and will be updated periodically as needed. A pdf copy of this manual can be viewed by clicking on the following link DEMCO Right-of-Way Line Clearance Manual. By this manual being submitted to the LPSC, it allows the cooperative to be more proactive in promoting necessary safe line clearances throughout the entire DEMCO electrical infrastructure.

Click here for the 2012 ROW maintenance plan.

Please be careful around power lines and never touch a tree that is growing into or near a power line. Also, never plant trees near a power line right-of-way. Please feel free to contact a representative of the DEMCO Right-of-Way Department at 225-262-3045 or 225-262-3097 if you have any questions. We may also be contacted by email at phillz@demco.org or samr@demco.org.

Thank you for helping us to provide safe and reliable service while at the same time promoting professional management of the forest resources in Louisiana.