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Medina EC News

Managing Rights-of-Way From Top to Bottom

Right-of-way management is key to reliable service

There’s more than one way to look at vegetation management. The work Medina Electric Cooperative and our contractors do to help keep electric lines and other equipment separated from plant overgrowth plays a major role in service reliability.

From mulching and hand cutting brush to tree trimming near and above power lines, we regularly inspect and manage the right-of-way around our equipment to prevent outages, mini­mize the threat of equipment damage, and maintain access and serviceability. Removal of tall trees and limbs near power lines reduces the risk of injuries caused by accidental contacts with energized power lines.

Medina EC’s standards for right-of-way clearing are to be as respectful to the landscape as possible, while maintaining sufficient line clearance and room for our linemen to work safely. The techniques used for line clearance encourage the growth of native species and increase plant diversity. They also create or restore habitat for local and migrating wildlife, including insects, birds and mammals. All right-of-way clearing is monitored by our ISA-certified arborists on staff to ensure all pruning is done to Medina EC’s standards.

We take preventing the spread of tree diseases like oak wilt seriously. All oak tree wounds from trimming are painted and any debris is disposed of properly. Our contracted line clearance crews consistently sterilize all trimming tools between oak trees.

Before and after photos of tree trimming

Vegetation management increases reliability by keeping trees clear of power lines.

When possible, we use practices aimed at reducing regrowth by spraying our rights-of-way following clearing.

Our vegetation management isn’t a one-time tree service. While some areas may require immediate attention, the bulk of our program is based on ongoing maintenance that rotates throughout the years. If you see us trimming trees in your area this year, you may not see us again for another five to seven years. When projects are deferred one year, they have to be done in the future, and the cost accrues much faster than inflation. As biomass increases and trees encroach on—or even engulf—power lines, they become increasingly difficult to access and less safe to work on. With a service area that spans more than 9,800 miles of line, it’s important that we stay on track for our planned maintenance.

According to industry research, about 20%–30% of power outages are vegetation related. In 2022, Medina EC responded to approximately 66 outages impacting more than 1,600 meters that were identified as tree-related. That equates to about 2% of Medina EC’s unplanned outages for the year. That’s why it’s important that we keep vegetation management a priority in our operations.

The concept of right tree, right place helps guide our vegetation management plan and doesn’t leave room for tall trees to develop under power lines. Planting trees under or too close to lines means those trees cannot reach their full potential and will have to be either removed or, if retained, continually pruned to keep them clear of the conductors.

Medina EC appreciates the diversity and beauty of the South Texas landscape and is committed to vegetation management practices that provide the right balance of reliable electric service, harmony with nature and safety.

Learn more about our right-of-way program on our website.