Clearing The Way
The work FreeState’s Right-of-Way (or tree) crew does to keep lines clear of vegetation is vital to providing safe, reliable power to our members. FreeState employs in-house tree crews dedicated to right-of-way clearing. These crews work to reduce outages caused by trees and reduce line loss. Every tree that grows too close to lines is a source of line loss, and that means wasted energy.
The in-house crew originated in the McLouth office in 2000. And since then, has worked not only on vegetation management but also outages when tree damage becomes a safety concern for line crews. By maintaining a comprehensive, regular tree-trimming program, FreeState reduces safety concerns and service interruptions.
The 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 severe injury or death.
Members are asked to call the cooperative if they observe a problem along the lines.
Tree Crew Priorities Include
Outages — Assist linemen to clear areas where trees or tree damage are hindering infrastructure repair. Due to safety concerns, jobs like these require efficiency and quick response.
Rebuilds — Clear areas for linemen to make updates to the infrastructure without obstacles.
Trouble Spots — 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.
Member Requests — Prioritize according to the level of danger posed to members, member property, or the FreeState infrastructure. Some member requests take more 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. Crews look specifically for trees or vegetation that could interfere with our lines, conductors, substations, and other infrastructure. Vegetation removed will be ground on site or chipped. Wood is usually left behind where the tree stood. When pruning or doing clearing work we:
- Mark trees with a red ribbon to indicate removal.
- Remove trees rather than just trim them to the point they appear “butchered.”
- Work with members who have trees they want to keep because our priority is to clear lines, while 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.
- Deliver wood chips to members directly. If a member is interested in chips, contact the office to be put on the list.
The tree crew does have access and training to apply chemicals on specific clearing jobs and only utilize non-restricted use chemicals.
All chemicals used by FreeState are available to the general public and are little to no risk to pets or nearby plants when applied according to label instructions.
Chemical application is made under the direct supervision of an employee who is a Certified Commercial Pesticide Applicator.
Cut stumps are treated with low pressure, hand-held sprayers 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, high pressure is used when needed. Proper chemical application is essential to our ability to maintain a clear right-of-way.
During spring and early summer months (April through June), the tree crews may apply chemicals to areas that have the potential to limit access to infrastructure. These areas often include substations and the base of power poles or areas previously cleared to prevent regrowth.
FreeState wants to remain diligent in our transparency with our members. If at any time a member has a question regarding the right-of-way clearing practices or chemicals used, we encourage members to contact the office.