Right-of-Way Management Overview
To facilitate safety and maintain reliable electric service, Steuben Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc. (“SREC”) schedules right-of-way (“ROW”) clearing in your area every 5-7 years. SREC uses an Integrated Vegetation Management (“IVM”) program to maintain system right-of-ways. IVM implements a combination of management strategies tailored to the specific needs of SREC. The result is the most cost effective, safe, and environmentally friendly approach to ROW maintenance for our members. Our IVM program is overseen by a degreed system Forester/ISA Certified Arborist. Our methodology involves implementing forestry procedures to selectively designate trees for removal and tree trimming. Manual tree trimming and removal techniques are combined with mechanical clearing techniques to provide the most efficient means of removing undesirable vegetation from the right-of-way. Low volume, selective herbicides are utilized whenever possible as the most cost effective way to minimize regeneration of undesirable species within the ROW. Low grow, beneficial, utility friendly vegetation is encouraged to replace invasive and aggressive species that negatively impact the utility. A successful IVM program, like the one we have at SREC, is a long term program that requires less vegetation management over time. Only certified contractors perform routine right-of-way tree work.
Work is scheduled by substation circuit and is affected by budget capabilities. Unless a significant hazard to the overhead primary line is identified, we do not perform tree work outside the scheduled circuit. Work is limited to trees that affect overhead primary lines (OHP). We do not routinely trim or remove trees affecting a member’s service line. Upon request SREC will unhook a service line so a professional tree crew can remove or trim a tree in a safe manner.
On occasion due to imminent hazard, storm, outage, or necessity, a line crew may trim or remove a tree. It should be noted that best management practices are not always possible in these situations.
Trees are selected for removal or trim based on an educated decision from our system Forester. Growth rates and tree species are contributing factors as to whether a tree will be removed, trimmed, or left alone. In most cases, you will be given the opportunity to discuss pending tree work with our Forester. SREC makes every effort to ensure you are contacted prior to work being completed on your property. Herbicide will not be applied without written permission from the landowner.
All routine tree trimming is to be in conjunction with industry standards set forth by ANSI A300 guidelines prepared by the Tree Care Industry Association. Industry “best practices” supported by the International Society of Arboriculture and United States Forest Service are adhered to under most circumstances.
- A “Tree” is a stem(s) of a woody plant that has a 4 inch diameter breast height (dbh) or larger.
- “Brush” is any plant that has less than 4 inch diameter.
- A “Removal” is any plant that has a 4 inch diameter that has been identified to be removed.
- A “Trim” is any plant that has a 4 inch dbh and is identified to have branches trimmed for line clearance.
Tree Cleanup and Wood Disposal
As part of our routine ROW maintenance, SREC will chip branches from trees removed in yards and manicured areas. Wood too big to be chipped will be left in manageable pieces or in one log length upon request. In un-manicured areas and woodlots, branches will be diced off the right-of-way to allow for minimal debris and promote decomposition. Logs will be left on top of diced branches against the tree line or perpendicular to the ROW in the woodlot.
Storm, Hazard, or Emergency Cleanup
When a storm event happens crews are focused on restoring power. Homeowners are responsible for removing all wood debris including branches and trees that SREC removes in order to expedite electric service restoration.
Member Tree Trimming Requests and Safety Tips
When a member requests a tree be trimmed or removed the system Forester, operations manager, or other representative will come and assess the tree(s) in question. If the assessor agrees the tree is a threat that cannot be safely addressed by a private tree service, then the tree will be placed on a list which is based on urgency of removal. Cooperative personnel or subcontractors will make arrangements to cut the tree below the neutral wire. The homeowner is then responsible for hiring a private tree company to finish the removal of the tree and clean up the material on the ground.
When trimming or removing a tree - It is the member's responsibility to contact SREC before trimming or removing any tree that could hit the power line if removed improperly. It is not necessarily the cooperatives responsibility to remove or trim questionable trees. If a tree is not hazardous to the OHP line and can be safely trimmed or removed by a certified professional tree care company, then it is the home owners’ responsibility to hire a professional. For help determining if a tree is the Cooperative’s or the homeowner’s responsibility, please contact the system Forester, Nick Hess at (607) 776-4161 or (800) 843-3414.
When planting a tree - It is the member’s responsibility to plant new trees and shrubs a minimum of fifteen feet from all overhead primary lines on their property. Planting utility friendly, low grow species whenever possible is strongly encouraged. Also, call 811 before you dig.
At all times - Please remember to avoid all overhead electric lines. Children and adults should not climb or work in trees close to power lines. Always treat all wires as dangerous to the touch. Do not approach any wire you see or find on the ground, instead call your local utility or 911.