Clearing trees can be inconvenient for our members. However, the work that we do to keep lines clear of vegetation is vital to provide safe, reliable power to our members. Tree-related outages account for 15 percent of service disruption. Clearing of lines increases service reliability.
FreeState Electric Cooperative employs one dedicated tree crew at each district location. This crew works to reduce outages caused by trees, and reduce line loss. Every tree that grows too close to lines is a source of loss, and that means wasted energy.
The tree crew began at the East District in 2000. Since inception, the tree crew has been working not only on vegetation management across the territories but also during outages when tree damage needs to be cleared to make repairs to any damaged infrastructure.
By maintaining a comprehensive, regular tree-trimming program, FreeState Electric Cooperative can reduce these safety concerns and service interruptions.
Why is clearing important?
Trees make our communities beautiful, but tree limbs and power lines are not a good combination. FreeState Electric Cooperative’s distribution lines carry our members’ electricity and must be kept clear to protect their safety and keep their electric service reliable. By trimming trees, FSEC reduces safety hazards and electrical outages.
The cooperative employees on our East and West District Tree Crews that clear vegetation from our lines are trained professionals.
NEVER attempt to clear the lines yourself.
NEVER climb a tree with branches near lines
NEVER touch power lines
Contact with power lines could result in serious injury or death.
Members do have a few responsibilities when it comes to vegetation management on their property.
Members are asked to call the cooperative if they observe a problem along the lines. Our crew can only address issues that they are aware of. We rely on our members to help identify problem areas.
We work with members as much as we can when it comes to logistics, and planning tree work. However, it is important for all members to update and maintain contact information.
The tree crew can be called in to clear the right-of-way after an outage, but the crew is dedicated full time to the system. This means a lot of jobs are done to take precautionary or proactive measures.
Tree crew priorities include:
Assisting linemen clear areas where trees or tree damage are hindering infrastructure repair. Due to safety concerns, these jobs are always done as efficiently, and as quickly as possible.
The tree crew clears areas for linemen to make updates to the current infrastructure without any obstacles.
These are areas that experience frequent outages. The tree crew works closely with the operations crew to identify these areas and address them as quickly as possible.
The tree crew prioritizes member requests according to level of danger posed to members, member property, or the FreeState infrastructure. Some member requests take time to get to, or complete.
Our tree crews prune trees according to accepted industry standards to achieve aesthetic value, as well as prolonged clearance.
We look specifically for trees or vegetation that could interfere with our lines, conductors, substations, and other infrastructure.
Vegetation that is removed in most cases will be ground up on site, or chipped. Wood is usually left where the tree was removed.
When pruning or doing clearing work we:
• Mark trees with a red ribbon to indicate removal.
• Remove trees rather than just trimming them to the point they appear “butchered.”
• Work with members who have trees they want to keep because our priority is not only clearing lines but being considerate of members’ property.
• Prune to keep tree health in mind.
• Are always willing to help a member choose an appropriate tree to plant in the right location.
• Trim trees up to the meter. Any lines or infrastructure beyond the meter is the responsibility of the member.
• Leave your property as clean as possible.
• Can deliver wood chips to members directly. If a member is interested in chips, contact the office to be put on the list. We make an effort to accommodate any requests.
The tree crew does have access and training to apply chemicals on specific clearing jobs.
Our crews will only utilize non-restricted use chemicals.
Our crews may apply:
• Imazypyre and Triclopyr blend
• Garlon 4
Any of the mentioned chemicals are available to the general public and are little to no risk to pets or neighboring plants when applied according to label instructions.
Chemicals are only applied under the direct supervision of an employee who is a Certified Commercial Pesticide Applicator. Cut stumps are treated with a low pressure, hand-held sprayer to prevent regrowth. Untreated stumps grow back very quickly, and the growth can often be thicker and more troublesome than the original vegetation. At times we use higher pressure, foliar application when needed. Chemical application is important to our ability to maintain a clear right-of-way.
During spring and early summer months (April through June) the tree crews may apply chemical to areas that have the potential to limit access to infrastructure. These areas often include substations and power lines that have been previously cleared.
If a member has a concern or question about the chemicals being applied, they have the right to ask the cooperative to present safety information on the chemical, as well as identify what is being used.