Vegetation Management

To safeguard the public and the reliability of our electric system, including your service, Wake Electric implements a vegetation management program to control the growth of trees and other vegetation around our facilities and rights-of-way. Trees are a leading cause of power outages, particularly when the wind blows. Wake Electric performs routine maintenance of trees and other vegetation on nearly 1,900 miles of overhead rights-of-way.

As more and more lines are being installed underground, keeping the area clear around our underground transformers and equipment has become increasingly important. Underground transformers and facilities are the large and small green boxes located on or near your property that help provide power to your home.

Our vegetation management activities are essential in order to maintain reliable electric service to our members and provide for the safety of your family and the general public. Wake Electric employs contractors and tree-trimming specialists for rights-of-way maintenance. Please do not approach these crews as they are performing maintenance on or near your property, since safety hazards exist within their work environment. If you have an immediate concern, please call Wake Electric at 919.863.6300 or toll-free at 800.474.6300.

Our goals are to:

  • Safeguard the public
  • 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
  • Maintain a positive relationship with land owners and the public


Wake’s vegetation management activities include the following components:

  • Tree pruning (trees are one of the leading causes for blinks and are second only to lightning)
  • Removal of hazard trees (trees within or encroaching on our rights-of-way) and other trees that require excessive pruning
  • The mowing or cutting of brush and small trees in our rights-of-way
  • Herbicide application to small trees in our rights-of-way
  • Removal of trees, shrubs, bushes and other plants around our underground transformers and equipment. The following diagram provides the clearances required by Wake Electric around our underground equipment

10 foot clearance around underground transformers

Joe Everett is Wake Electric’s Right-of-way Superintendent, and manages our vegetation management program. 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.

Properly maintained rights-of-way are very important to our cooperative. Not only are we required to perform this maintenance by the North Carolina General Statutes, but tree-trimming and right-of-way maintenance programs are also required for us to receive our safety accreditation from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). All North Carolina electric cooperatives have earned their safety accreditation from NRECA.

Plant the Right Tree in the Right Place
The history and purpose

In 1996 the Wake Electric board of directors voted to incorporate the use of herbicide in rights-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 re-cleared in the past 12 months. We return approximately every two years to respray the circuits.

The purpose is to maintain woody stemmed vegetation so that our trucks can access our rights-of-way. Spraying occurs from the 1st of June to the end of September. So why spray instead of the old way of cutting?

According to Mr. Everett, over time spraying is cheaper. “Once you spray a tree – it doesn’t come back,” Mr. Everett said. “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 makes it to the rights-of-way stimulating the growth of natural grasses. This, in turn, provides wildlife with more habitat and cover to make its home. Typically, Wake focuses on spraying woody-stem species. The contractors used by Wake are licensed by the North Carolina 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 United States Environmental Protection Agency.