Tree Maintenance

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Long before storms hit, Jackson EMC's Vegetation Maintenance Program works to clear the way for power by trimming and removing trees and vegetation that could cause power outages.

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 important to 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.

Jackson EMC proactively removes trees that threaten our more than 14,000 miles of power lines, trim branches that could cause outages and remove shrubbery under primary distribution lines – all to help keep the electricity on in homes and businesses.

We maintain an area clear of all vegetation directly under the power line and 15 feet on either side of the line to keep an open maintenance corridor and permit visual inspection of the line. The amount of trimming required also depends on how fast a particular species of tree will regrow new branches, how much branches sway in the wind and the voltage carried by the power line.

Jackson EMC has more than 14,000 miles of energized lines across 10 counties. About 6,200 miles are overhead wires that require vegetation maintenance.

Every six years, Jackson EMC trims around primary distribution or “feeder” lines that carry electricity from substations to neighborhoods and secondary lines that run from those. Every year, non-toxic herbicides are used to maintain areas and our crews work year-round to maintain trees and vegetation around our power lines and equipment.

Jackson EMC employs and supervises independent, tree-trimming contractors to maintain its right-of-way. These contractors are professionals in the field of utility 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.

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.

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.

Jackson EMC uses directional trimming to maintain clearances between trees and power lines. The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the National Arbor Day Foundation recommend directional trimming. In cases where trees need to be heavily trimmed to keep a safe clearance distance from power lines, removing the tree may be a better option than leaving it susceptible to disease or death.

This pruning technique trains the tree to grow away from power lines by removing only the branches that come in contact with the wires. Rather than cutting limbs back to unsightly and unnatural stubs, branches are selectively pruned back to the center of the trunk where trees normally shed them. This type of trimming retains much of the tree’s natural crown and can better protect trees from diseases and insects.

With recorded property easements, Jackson EMC has access to the space below and 15 feet on each side of power lines. This space, called the right-of-way, provides a path to maintain or repair the cooperative’s power lines to ensure reliable electric service. Our crews and contractors need this space to safely maneuver utility vehicles to install, repair and maintain electrical equipment.

Affected members should receive a notice on their door, where possible, 1-2 days prior to planned maintenance. There are cases when a tree must be trimmed or removed without prior notification, such as following storm damage. If you have a concern about tree and vegetation management work near your property, call Jackson EMC at 1-800-462-3691.

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

Never touch, trim or remove a tree that is touching or has power lines running through it. Call Jackson EMC 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.

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.

Before you begin any digging project, call 811 to have underground utilities, such as power lines, properly marked.

Jackson EMC recommends planting power line-friendly trees (trees that do not grow taller than 15 feet) near high-voltage 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. Large trees, such as Leyland cypress, should be planted at least 60 feet from power lines.

Keep shrubs, fences and structures that could block Jackson EMC crews at least 10 feet away from a pad-mounted transformer (the big green boxes).

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