One thing I love about our community is the natural beauty that surrounds us. We are fortunate to have so many trees that offer beauty, shade, and habitat for birds and wildlife.
At Little River Electric Cooperative, we strive to balance maintaining our beautiful surroundings with ensuring a reliable power supply by keeping power lines clear in the co-op’s rights-of-way.
A right-of-way is the land we use to construct, maintain, replace or repair underground and overhead power lines. Rights-of-way are typically on public lands or located near a business or home. Little River Electric must be able to maintain the power lines above and below the right-of-way by providing clearance from trees and other obstructions. Proactive vegetation management benefits members in three ways.
Overgrown vegetation and trees pose a risk to power lines, as well as our members and lineworkers. If tree limbs are touching power lines in a member’s yard, they can pose danger to the family. Electricity can arc or jump from a power line to a nearby conductor like a tree. Proactive trimming also diminishes the chance of fallen branches or trees during severe weather, which makes it more complicated and dangerous for lineworkers to restore power.
One of the biggest benefits of proactive trimming and pruning is ensuring reliability. Strategic tree trimming reduces the frequency of downed lines causing power outages. Generally, healthy trees don’t fall on power lines, and clear lines don’t cause problems.
We also use data and technology to maximize the efficiency of our operation, including our vegetation management plan. “Our goal is to be on a five-year rotation for each of our substations. Just in the last couple of years, LREC has been able to cut our rotation from eight years down to six. By next year, we will meet our goal, thanks to our two ROW crews,” says Clay Charping, operations manager and ROW supervisor.
Because LREC is a not-for-profit cooperative, we strive to keep our costs in check to keep our rates affordable. This extends to our approach to vegetation management. If trees grow too close to power lines, the potential for expensive repairs also increases. Effective tree trimming and other vegetation management efforts keep costs down for everyone.
We appreciate the beauty trees provide, but we also know our community depends on us to deliver reliable energy. Through vegetation management, we are better able to keep power lines clear, prepare for future weather events, and secure the reliability of the grid.