Vegetation Management

Trees and Power Lines: A Dangerous Combination

A tree limb broken off and lying on power lines

When a tree grows into a power line, one of two things might happen.

First, a broken branch could fall onto the line, breaking the electrical wire. This could cause a power outage, sometimes to a wide area and affecting many people. The broken wire (which could still be energized) could dangle from the utility line, causing a potential hazard to those in the area. If someone touched the line, or even touched the ground around the line, they could be killed or severely injured.

Another potential injury could occur if someone tries climbing a tree extending into a power line. The weight of their body may cause a limb to touch the electrical wires, sending electricity from the wire, through the branch, and into the person. The person could be severely injured by the shock, knocked from the tree causing further injury, or killed instantly.

While outages are inconvenient and costly to Heartland and its members, it is the personal injuries that we worry about the most.


Right of Way Maintenance Program

To ensure safety, reliability, and affordability, Heartland REC has implemented a comprehensive tree trimming and right-of-way maintenance program in which with portions of our service area targeted for inspection and treatment each year.

Vegetation can be managed in different ways. Branches and limbs are often cut back from the lines. At times, we apply herbicide. Other times, especially with tall trees close to our lines, trees need to be removed completely.

The goals of our program are as follows:

  • The safety of the member, the linemen, and the right-of-way crews
  • Education of members in the reasoning behind tree trimming
  • To clear and maintain the system on a regular rotation
  • To find the most productive, cost-effective method and system for keeping a clear right of way

Heartland is responsible for vegetation management around our primary lines, but it is the member’s responsibility to contact a qualified tree trimmer if they need to clear the area around any secondary lines running from Heartland’s poles to the member’s structures.

Right of Way Policies

  • Heartland requires 15 feet of clearance on either side of our power lines
  • Heartland trims or removes trees and/or applies herbicide to vegetation that may interfere with our operations
  • Heartland employees must have full and free access to members’ premises for the purpose of constructing, installing, inspecting, adjusting, repairing, maintaining, replacing, or removing any Heartland property on the premises, reading meters, or for any other purpose related to providing electric service

Graphic showing a power pole with 15 feet of clearance on either side. Trees have been trimmed back past the 15-foot mark on either side.