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Landowners Along our Transmission Lines

Ensuring that trees remain clear of transmission lines is not only vital for service reliability it is a crucial public and worker safety issue.

Vegetation Around High Voltage Lines

transmission lines above shrubsUnregulated tree and vegetation growth near high-voltage transmission lines can cause service interruptions, wildfires, and electrocution. We established “rights of way” around these lines where vegetation is strictly regulated to ensure public safety. If there are transmission lines on your property, you can learn more about our policies and your responsibilities in our Landowners Along Our Transmission Lines brochure.

Transmission Line Rights-of-Way

We have the legal responsibility to provide safe and reliable electric service. In both New York and New England, public service laws establish responsibility and accountability for providing efficient, safe and reliable power within certain quality parameters

Trees and Transmission Lines

Trees and transmission lines are not compatible. Trees that grow too close to electric transmission lines can conduct electricity and provide a path to ground, potentially causing an interruption and other significant consequences. Trees do not have to physically touch an energized power line to be dangerous. Electricity can arc or jump from a power line to nearby vegetation. In addition to causing an interruption, this can also cause a wildfire and is very dangerous. Electric current flowing through a tree can electrocute anyone in close proximity. Therefore, ensuring trees remain clear of transmission lines is not only vital for service reliability but it is a crucial public and worker safety issue.

Right-of-Way Floor Vegetation Management

We utilize a program called Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM) to establish and foster low-growing vegetative plant communities that, in turn, require minimal maintenance and create numerous benefits for the environment.

We use herbicides to selectively remove tall-growing tree species from the rights-of-way. The remaining low-growing plant communities provide a stable vegetative cover resistant to the re-establishment of tall-growing vegetation. This also provides improved access, erosion control and improved wildlife habitat. The IVM program focuses on complete removal of tall-growing vegetation. Pruning or topping vegetation is a short-term measure that does not provide the same benefits as removal. Topped vegetation poses a higher risk to reliability, safety and does nothing to foster a stable, desirable plant community as the topped trees vigorously sprout back and shade out the desirable plants.

Right-of-Way Edge Danger Tree Program

Our goal is to continually improve service reliability. To this end, trees that are growing along the edges of the right-of-way corridors are periodically pruned or removed.

Targeted edge trees are those with hazardous structural defects (e.g., cracks, cavities, decay, poor limb attachments) or those with a history of failure (e.g., poplars, white pine). Research and experience have shown that it is prudent to remove these trees before they cause an interruption.

As the work is carried out, our crews will make every reasonable attempt to protect private property. Disruption to livestock, roadways, soil, fences and gates is avoided as much as possible. Any damages are repaired within a reasonable amount of time after the disturbance.

Cut tree branches are diced close to the ground and left to decompose. Stumps are cut as low to the ground as practicable. Any useable wood, such as larger limbs as and/or logs, remains along the right-of-way edge for the landowner.

Landowner Use of Transmission Rights-of-Way

Due to the potential safety and operational issues mentioned above, it is imperative that we manage our rights-of-way to ensure that only compatible uses are allowed. Existing land uses such as cropland, gardens, lawns, pastureland and planting of low-growing trees and shrubs are compatible with our transmission line rights-of-way. We require the prior written authorization for any new or expanded usage within any right-of-way.  Please contact the Transmission Forester in your area to discuss plants that will be suitable for your site. Unauthorized use of our transmission rights-of-way such as planting tall growing trees, cutting or pruning trees, constructing structures, stockpiling materials, excavating or operating heavy equipment all poses a threat to reliability as well as personal and public safety. Unauthorized use could result in the removal of structures or other personal property at the expense of the property owner.

Landowner Cooperation

Landowner cooperation is critical to the success of our vegetation management programs. To keep our transmission corridors safe and to prevent injury, property damage, environmental damage and unauthorized use of rights-of-way, we attempt to communicate and cooperate with owners for crew access, maintenance activities, tree removal and security. We also realize the importance of understanding the needs and sensitivities of all property owners.


Massachusetts Transmission Vegetation Maintenance Documents