Right of Way

Trees can cause power outages

Trees in the right-of-way may cause blinks and outages and increase maintenance costs.

Trees are the major cause of power interruptions, both prolonged and momentary, for CEC members. They also pose a serious safety hazard for our members and crews. When a tree comes into contact with a power line, children or adults touching the tree could be severely injured or even killed. We devote much of our resources to cutting and trimming trees that threaten electric service and the public’s safety. For overhead lines, we require a 30-foot wide area (15 feet on either side of the utility pole) to be cleared for our access. For single phase, we require a 20-foot wide area (10 feet on either side of the utility pole) to be cleared for access. This right-ofway allows our electrical equipment to be accessible by different types of vehicles and equipment. This does not mean that bare ground is necessary, just vegetation that will not overgrow and cause more work when maintenance is needed or an emergency arises. Carefully selected and placed, a tree can provide your family with many years of enjoyment. It can even help you conserve energy by providing summer shade and winter protection.

Tree planting guidelines

Before planting a tree, it is wise to consider what the mature height of the tree will be. Different species of trees should be planted farther distances from power lines. Talk to your nursery or the County Extension Agent for suggestions on low-growing trees that can be planted near power lines. And, as always, make sure to call before you dig by dialing 811 to identify any underground utility lines before you dig. The diagram below shows recommended distances and heights for trees and bushes near power lines. The letters below correspond to the trees in the diagram. 

  1. If landscaping is needed near right-of-way areas, choose low growth shrubs.
  2. Smaller trees can be planted on right-of-way edges, at least 15’ from power lines. 
  3. Medium trees need to be planted at least 35’ away from lines. 
  4. Large trees need to be planted at least 45’ away from overhead lines. 
  5. Trees planted too close to the lines will always be misshapen by unavoidable pruning of limbs to prevent interference with power lines.