Right-Of-Way (ROW)

All electric utilities have an obligation to provide safe clearances around trees and energized conductors throughout their system.

For DEMCO members and the communities we power, initial and subsequent line clearings as well as ongoing vegetation management are key to improved reliability and safety for everyone.

DEMCO’s program requires preventive maintenance along co-op right-of-way (ROW), which includes maintenance and clearing and trimming of trees and vegetation that threaten the transmission and distribution system.

Why is a clear right-of-way important?

A clear right-of-way improves power quality, reliability and safety. We all enjoy trees, but when they interfere with power lines, reliability and safety are compromised.

How are trees, branches and vegetation in the right-of-way problematic?

  • Cause power outages.
  • Cause lights to blink.
  • Obstruct visual inspections, making repairs diffcult and costly.
  • Block access for maintenance and repairs, causing delays.
  • Waste electricity by drawing electricity into the ground.
  • Become a fire hazard when trees are near power lines.
  • Become a safety hazard for lineworkers and members.

Why do you clear trees and shrubs so far from the lines?

  • The standard clearing width is 40 feet — 20 feet on each side of power line — for overhead distribution lines.
  • Service reliability is improved when trees and brush are far enough away from lines to prevent contact.
  • Work crews need adequate access to power lines for safe, quick repairs.

Can DEMCO switch to underground lines?

  • DEMCO members already have a significant investment in the existing overhead system.
  • The cost of running lines underground throughout rural areas is prohibitive.
  • The reliability of underground lines has yet to be proven. Many underground lines installed in the 1970s have begun to fail, which leads to additional expense to replace them.
  • Underground lines have half the useful life of overhead lines.
  • Because we cannot see underground lines, maintaining and restoring power can often take longer than overhead lines.

How is brush selected for clearing?

Generally, all standing vegetation within the designated clearing zone is removed.

Do DEMCO crews perform ROW work?

Cutting and trimming is done by trained professionals contracted by DEMCO. Contractor vehicles will have signage stating “DEMCO authorized contractor” and include the DEMCO logo.

How will I know what will be removed or trimmed, and when work will be done?

  • Tree Debris Removal
  • Before any right-of-way work is done in your area, DEMCO will call you.
  • Before any right-of-way primary line work is done on your property, you will receive a door hanger notification from DEMCO that states a contractor will soon be doing routine maintenance.
  • If the contractor determines that ROW work is routine, this door hanger will serve as your only notification.
  • If the contractor determines that tree removal and/or major trimming is necessary, the contractor will make up to three attempts to speak with the property resident — either face to face, by phone or door hanger notification — before work begins.

What happens to the cut trees, limbs and brush after crews complete their work?

  • Tree Debris Removal
  • Within the five-year cycle of right-of-way schedule maintenance work, the contractor is responsible for all debris disposal.
  • Any storm-related debris is the responsibility of the resident.

What can I plant and where?

As you landscape, look up and keep these tips in mind:

  • Planting Guidelines
  • Plant the right tree in the right place: Read the tree tag to determine its height at maturity.
  • Never plant vegetation too close or directly under power lines.
  • Follow all instructions posted on electrical equipment.

What should I do if I think I have a tree threatening a co-op line?

If you have a tree on your property or within view that could cause a power outage, or for questions about planting vegetation near power lines, call DEMCO at 1-844-MyDEMCO (1-844-693-3626).