Why responsible vegetation management is crucial for electric safety and reliability
At ATC, we care about delivering power safely and reliably. We also care about our environment and our communities. We work to balance our obligation to operate our facilities safely while being a respectful neighbor.
Removal of trees around transmission lines is an important part of operating the lines safely and reliably. If vegetation grows too close to the wires, it can cause a dangerous situation. A tree branch does not even need to come in contact with a transmission line to create a hazard; electricity can jump from the wires to another source, such as a tree, igniting a fire or creating a dangerous electrical path. If this happens, there is an obvious safety risk to anyone nearby or any crews working on the lines. Wide-spread power outages can also occur.
Understandably, some landowners question the need for removal of trees that might have been trimmed, or allowed to remain, in the past. After widespread outages in other parts of the country, vegetation management practices throughout the industry and at ATC have changed in recent years.
We manage vegetation within our rights-of-way, which include land directly below and beside the wires. In all cases, incompatible vegetation within the wire zone must be cleared. Tall-growing trees, vegetation and brush must be cleared, but some low-growing shrubs and plants may be permitted. In partnership with gardening expert and horticulturist Melinda Myers, our Grow Smart® program helps property owners and communities identify low-growing, beautiful, native vegetation that can be planted the smart way – a safe distance from transmission lines. View or print the Grow Smart Planting Guide or Grow Smart Pollinator Guide for suggested vegetation that is similar to what we plant in our rights-of-ways after construction.
We conduct right-of-way vegetation management approximately every five years with the goal of removing all incompatible vegetation. Interim work to trim or remove vegetation is sometimes needed. Crews use manual, mechanical and limited herbicide control methods to achieve a clear and safe right-of way. We contract with professional tree trimming and removal companies that have extensive experience in proper pruning and removal techniques.
We typically notify landowners by mail in advance of any work on their properties and provide a description of our plans, the reason for the work, the time frame and contact information for an ATC representative.
We are also proud to be recognized as a leader in responsible vegetation management practices. We have received the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Line USA® designation every year since 2008. Our Community Planting Program helps support efforts to beautify communities in our service area in a way that’s consistent with safety and maintenance standards. Eligible cities, villages, towns, counties and tribes may apply for financial support for planning projects on public property within their communities. Applications are accepted June 1 through Sept. 30 each year. In fact, we just awarded $56,000 to 27 communities as part of the project.
If you have any questions about our practices, we encourage you to reach out to us at email@example.com.