Right of Way Clearing and Maintenance

To safeguard the reliability of our transmission system delivery system and our customers’ electric service, Wake Electric has developed a vegetation management program to control the growth of trees and other vegetation around our transmission facilities and rights of way. Trees are a leading cause of power outages, especially when the wind blows. Wake Electric performs routine maintenance of trees and other vegetation on over 1,900 miles of overhead right-of-way.

These vegetation management activities are essential to maintain reliable electric service to our members and to provide for the safety of your family and the general public.  Trees are one of the leading causes for blinks and are second only to lightning.

Our goals are to:

  • Protect our system and minimize outages
  • Minimize any adverse environmental impacts
  • Ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations
  • Perform our work as safely and economically as possible, and
  • Maintain a positive relationship with land owners and the public

Wake’s vegetation management activities include the following four components:

· Tree pruning

· The removal of hazard trees and other trees that require excessive pruning

· The mowing or cutting of brush and small trees on the right-of-way

· Herbicide application to small trees on the right-of-way

Wake employs Ed Wheeler, a licensed pesticide applicator, to oversee it’s vegetation management program. Wheeler is a board member of the N.C. Vegetative Management Association. Routine vegetation management activities are completed on a regular cycle.

Tree pruning or removal outside of this regularly scheduled maintenance is completed only at the request of the landowner or to correct a hazardous situation.

A clear right-of-way is so important that tree-trimming and right-of-way maintenance programs are required for a cooperative to receive its safety accreditation from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). All North Carolina electric cooperatives have earned their safety accreditation from NRECA.

Wake Electric employs contractors and tree-trimming specialists for right of way maintenance.

The history and purpose

In 1996 the Wake Electric board of directors voted to incorporate the use of herbicide in right-of-way maintenance. By the summer of the following year, Wake was ready to start spraying. Since then, we have sprayed the line circuits that have been recleared in the past 12 months. We go back about every two years and respray the circuits.

The purpose is to keep woody stemmed vegetation from getting waist high so that trucks can access the right-of-way. Spraying occurs from the 1st of June to end of September.

So why spray instead of the old way of cutting?

According to Wheeler, over time, spraying is cheaper. “Once you spray a tree – it doesn’t come back,” said Wheeler. “When you cut the tree, it ends up putting out three times as many sprouts.”

Spraying has other benefits as well.

When the trees are removed, more sunlight gets to the right of way and the growth of natural grasses. This gives wildlife more habitat and a cover to make their home.

Typically, Wake focuses on spraying woody-stem species. The contractors used by Wake are licensed by the N.C. Department of Agriculture as pesticide applicators. Every chemical used by Wake is tested and approved by the Food and Drug Administration or approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.