08:08 AM

Clearing the Way

Jackson EMC's vegetation maintenance program helps provide reliable electricity.

When it comes to providing reliable electric service you depend on, trimming trees and vegetation around power lines can make a significant difference. 

The number one cause of power outages is tree limbs coming in contact with power lines. Properly maintaining the area around power lines reduces the likelihood of a prolonged outage caused by trees. It’s also importantto keep trees around power lines trimmed for safety. Trees are excellent conductors of electricity. If a tree has grown into a power line, electricity can travel to the ground and create an electrocution hazard.

In an effort to continually provide safe and reliable electric service to members, Jackson EMC strives to keep electric lines clear of trees, brush and foliage through its vegetation maintenance program.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: How often do you trim trees along the cooperative's power lines?

A: Jackson EMC has more than 14,000 miles of energized lines across 10 counties. Of that, about 6,200 miles are overhead wires that require vegetation maintenance. We follow a six-year maintenance plan, so we reach every line on our system within six years; then, we start again. The six-year period starts by trimming around our power lines and equipment. Then, every other year, we use a non-toxic herbicide to maintain the area. Our crews work year-round to maintain trees and vegetation around our power lines and equipment.

Q: How wide is the area you trim along a power line?

A: By law, Jackson EMC has access to the space below power lines and 15 feet on each side of power lines. This space, called the right-of-way, gives us a path to maintain or repair the cooperative’s power lines to ensure reliable electric service for everyone. Our crews and contractors need this space to safely maneuver utility vehicles to install, repair and maintain electrical equipment.

Q: Who performs vegetation maintenance?

A: Our tree maintenance contractors are certified arborists to ensure trees are properly trimmed to protect the health of the tree. Jackson EMC uses contractors with specialized expertise for its tree and vegetation maintenance. These crews are highly skilled inthe field of arboriculture and use proven industry-standard pruning techniques, proper tools and safety practices.

Contractor crews are supervised by Jackson EMC personnel. When trees are being trimmed, Jackson EMC’s supervisors are in the area and a notice that the contractor is working for Jackson EMC is posted on all contractor vehicles.

Q: Who are Jackson EMC's contractors for tree and vegetation maintenance?

A: Jackson EMC's contractors dedicated to tree and vegetation maintenance are Townsend Tree Services, Kendall Vegetation Services, Taylor Tree Services, Asplundh, McAllister Utilities and NaturChem. A Jackson EMC employee is responsible for overseeing contractors performing tree and vegetation maintenance.

Q: What do you do with the tree limbs that are trimmed?

A: Tree limbs are chipped. Members interested in receiving mulch from the chipped limbs may call Jackson EMC at 1-800-462-3691 to request mulch.

Q: What if I want to trim a tree that's close to a power line?

A: Don't go near or touch a tree that's touching or close to a power line. It's a safety hazard. If a tree is too close to a power line, call us at 1-800-462-3691 to request an inspection. If the tree is outside of Jackson EMC's tree maintenance guidelines, we'll create a safe environment for you to trim it. 

Q: How do I report a tree that appears unsafe near a power line?

A: If you see an immediate electrical hazard, stay clear and call 911. Always assume power lines are energized and dangerous. If a tree or branch poses a threat of falling on power lines or equipment, report it to Jackson EMC by calling 1-800-462-3691.

Q: How can I make landscaping safer near power lines and equipment?

A: Before you begin any digging project, call 811 first to have underground utilities, such as power lines, properly marked. Avoid planting trees directly under power lines. Small trees, such as crabapple trees, should be planted at least 20 feet away from power lines. Medium-sized trees, like dogwoods, should be planted at least 40 feet away, and large trees, such as Leyland cypress, should be planted at least 60 feet from power lines. Keep shrubs and structures at least 10 feet away from a pad-mounted transformer, which could block our crews’ access to equipment for repairs.

Q: How do you notify members about upcoming tree and vegetation work?

A: Affected members should receive a notice on their door, where possible, 1-2 days prior to planned maintenance taking place. There are cases when a tree must be trimmed or removed without prior notification, such as following damage from a storm.

Q: If I have a concern about tree and vegetation management work near my property, who do I contact?

A: Call Jackson EMC at 1-800-462-3691. A supervisor will contact you about your concerns.

All of Jackson EMC’s supervisors assigned to a contractor crew for tree and vegetation management are certified arborists – a designation showing their specialized knowledge and expertise in the care of trees.

Some of Jackson EMC’s line crews – those who build and maintain the cooperative’s electrical distribution system – are also certified arborists. Linemen and journeymen interested in becoming certified arborists complete classes covering biology, soil science, plant disorders and health, and more. After passing a test, they’re certified by the Georgia Forestry Commission for three years.