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Jackson EMC's Tree Maintenance Program

When trees grow into electrical lines, they can create safety hazards and disrupt service. During high winds, strong thunderstorms or snow or ice storms, limbs and even whole trees can fall on electric lines, tearing down energized lines and equipment. Broken limbs can cause outages just by making contact with electric lines and equipment. The water, sap and chemicals in trees are excellent electricity conductors. If a tree has grown into a power line, electricity can travel through the tree to the ground and create an electrocution hazard. Trees touching power lines can also cause fires.

Jackson EMC maintains the area around the lines, known as the right-of-way, to keep members and employees safe.

These men wield chainsaws, keeping vegetation at bay, clearing the path for your power. During storms they ride the lines, looking for fallen trees that need to be cleared, declaring areas safe for passage by linemen looking to restore power. Right-ofway crews work year-round to remove threats to your power supply and to keep workers safe from potential danger.

Here are the facts about the program from men charged with managing the 6,552 miles of overhead wire powering the homes and businesses of Jackson EMC's members.

To members about the Tree Maintenance Porgram:

A lot of people don’t understand the voltage on the line and how dangerous it is. We are doing this for safety; for our safety, and theirs. Plus, if we can take the time now to clear it, you won’t have to wait for us to make a path after a storm. – Benton

Never attempt to trim or remove a tree that has power lines running through it. If you discover trees growing into lines, please call your local Jackson EMC office to report it. – Mize

Don’t plant Leyland Cypress or Bradford Pear trees under power lines. They grow too tall, too fast. – Waters

I own property too. We don’t want to tear up your property, just like we don’t want ours messed up. – Pressley

For reliable service, the lines need to be clean and clear. – Roberson

When do crews clear?

Crews work year-round, Monday to Thursday from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. We have a lot of miles, so we have to clear all year long. – Roberson

One crew can clear three miles a month. In all, our crews clear 1,200 miles each year. We can reach each mile of line about every five to six years. – Benton

Who does the work?

Jackson EMC has five supervisors who oversee 32 independent, tree-trimming contractor crews that maintain its right-of-way. The contractors work 40 hours a week and are professionals in the field of utility arboriculture and use proven industry-standard pruning techniques, proper tools and safety practices.

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

Is trimming safe for trees?

Great care is taken to ensure limbs that must be cut from trees are done to protect the tree and keep it growing safely away from lines. – Benton

Jackson EMC uses directional trimming to maintain clearances between trees and power lines. Directional trimming is recommended by the International Society of Arboriculture, American National Standards Institute and the National Arbor Day Foundation. – Mize

How much do you cut?

We only cut what we have to, which is a clearance of 15 feet in each direction of the line: left, right and under. – Benton

Trees are trimmed, underbrush is mowed down and trees growing too tall under the lines are taken down or scaled back. – Waters

We consider several factors when pruning a tree for line clearance, in priority order: public and right-of-way worker safety, service reliability, correct arboriculture pruning techniques, and finally, aesthetics. – Mize

How do you tell members you are coming?

We make an effort to reach each member whose power lines will be cleared. If we don’t meet you at your door, a brochure about the program with contact information is left behind. – Benton

I knock on their doors and let them know. I like to talk to them. They will tell you where risks are on their property – like where the septic tank is buried. – Pressley

Favorite part of the job:

Gratification of doing the job. It is a very rewarding career, keeping the lights on for people. I like to hear them say ‘my lights never go out.’ – Waters

I like working outside and meeting our customers. – Roberson

I enjoy coming to work every day; working with the crews, and I have a good boss. I like talking with customers and hearing about the history of the lines. – Benton

It gets hot and it gets cold. But I get to breathe fresh air every day and work outside. – Pressley

For more information about Jackson EMC’s Tree Maintenance Program, visit www.jacksonemc.com/tree.