We love the simple things in life — a thriving garden, abundant wildlife, reliable electric power. Unfortunately, sometimes those simple pleasures come into conflict.
Trees and foliage overgrowth near the power lines have been responsible for anything from minor flickering power on windy days to large-scale outages during heavy storms, and even grass and forest fires. In some thankfully uncommon, but no less tragic cases, trees near power lines have also caused the electrocution of climbing children.
As part of our co-op’s commitment to provide safe, reliable, and affordable power to our member-owners, we make significant investments each year in maintaining an unobstructed right-of-way.
In 2022, East Central Electric performed tree trimming and brush removal across 1,119 miles of electric line.
There are things individual co-op members can do to help ensure the safety and reliability of our electric infrastructure.
If you plan to plant trees this spring, take time to research the mature height of the tree and choose a location where your fully-grown tree won’t interfere with your electric service.
Consulting a local arborist or tree nursery before you dig into your landscaping project can have the added benefit of helping you plan a garden that provides home-cooling benefits in the summer and a wind-break from harsh winter winds that can ultimately help lower your electric bill as well.
There are many great varieties of low-growing trees and shrubs that provide color, screening and shade. Consider the types of trees that co-exist well with power lines and the environment to avoid the need for trimming for line clearance.
When planning your garden, you should also call 811 to locate underground utilities. Not only will you save yourself from a nasty electric shock by not digging in the wrong spot, but you can also save yourself from future expensive headaches, like root systems growing into your water and sewer lines.
If you currently have trees on your property that are growing near power lines, contact the co-op. Never try to prune them yourself. For trees that are in our right-of-way, the co-op will send certified personnel to trim and spray. For overgrowth between your meter and your home, we can provide a list of appropriately certified utility clearance professionals in your area. While the temptation to save money and do it yourself can be strong, we want to remind you that coming into direct contact with electricity is a life-or-death scenario, and that federal law requires anyone working within 10 feet of electrical equipment to have the proper OSHA certifications.
As a co-op, we are also mindful of the fact that some of our member-owners operate apiaries, vineyards, orchards, and certified organic farms that may be affected by herbicide sprays. We maintain a list of these organizations and specifically avoid herbicide use in these areas. If you would like to be added to the list, please contact the co-op.
The safety of our members and our employees is our highest priority. Providing reliable power at an affordable price comes second.
We love the natural beauty of rural Oklahoma. We employ best-practices to protect it. But at the end of the day, the efforts we make to maintain our right-of-way are designed to save lives and keep the power flowing to our co-op members.