Snow and winter weather often cause power outages when trees fall on our lines. KEC goes to great lengths to avoid this. For instance, half of our power lines have been built underground and almost all newly constructed lines are put underground. To minimize the risk of trees contacting our overhead lines, KEC trims the trees and mows the underbrush that grow within our power line easements. On average, KEC spends approximately $900,000 annually on our vegetation management program.
Even with all these efforts, trees remain the largest cause of power outages. Here’s why: most of the trees that cause outages are not within our power line easements. The photo below was taken during a storm this winter. The tree on the line caused an outage and was outside our easement. While KEC has the authority to cut trees that grow within these easements, we do not have the authority to cut those growing outside of them. For context, our typical easement is 30 feet wide with the power line running down the middle of it. Before removing a tree growing outside our easement which threatens our power lines, landowner permission is needed. KEC makes this easy for landowners. All they need to do is say “yes” and the trees will be removed at no cost to them. But what if they say “no?”
Landowners who are unwilling to allow KEC to remove trees on their property which threaten our power lines will be notified in writing of their liability for damage those trees may cause. In the event damage occurs, KEC will pursue financial restitution. Alternatively, KEC will be happy to remove the trees in question without cost to the landowner.
There are a small number of trees that KEC has permitted to grow within our easements. In lieu of removing them outright, we have trimmed the limbs around the power lines. When an accommodation is made, the tree will be cut so that its normal growth occurring before the next maintenance cycle, plus two years, will not encroach the safe operating distance of our power lines.
All of KEC’s efforts to clear trees around our power lines are rooted in safety and fire prevention. We encourage our members to be mindful of it as well. If you have a tree on your property that needs to be removed and could fall into a power line, please don’t cut it down yourself. Contact KEC. If it’s a threat to our power lines, we will be happy to remove it at no cost. If it’s not, we can help you identify a qualified arborist who can help you remove it.
You can contact us about problem trees using our website reporting form. You may also call Kurt Lyon, KEC Right-of-Way Specialist, at 208.292.3216.