Right of Way Clearing: Frequently Asked Questions

Jerry Phelps
Jerry Phelps
Arborist and
Right of Way Supervisor

Piedmont Electric recognizes that trees and other plants are beneficial to accenting our homes and beautifying our communities. However, trees growing in the wrong place can be dangerous. Here to explain the importance of tree and vegetation clearing is Jerry Phelps, Right of Way Supervisor at Piedmont Electric. Jerry is a certified arborist with 46 years of arboriculture experience.

Why does Piedmont Electric trim trees around power lines?

Trees falling on or limbs brushing our lines is the leading cause of power outages, especially during severe weather. By trimming and removing trees, mowing and applying herbicide around power lines, we reduce tree-related outages and shorten the duration of outages when they do occur. Also, when power lines are down, they are more likely to come into contact with people and property.

How often does Piedmont Electric trim trees?

Piedmont Electric has a three-year clearing schedule. This means we try to reach every mile of our 2,000-mile system within three years, then we start again.

What would happen if Piedmont Electric did not trim my trees?

You would likely experience power quality problems and longer than necessary storm-related outages. It takes three to four times longer to restore your power if our crews have to work around untrimmed trees.

Why don’t you put all those lines underground so you don’t have to cut the trees?

It’s simply too expensive. The initial cost of running lines underground throughout rural areas is prohibitively high. While they may be more reliable during a storm, they can take twice as long to fix when something does happen to them.

The crews I’ve noticed trimming trees aren’t in Piedmont Electric trucks. Are they co-op employees?

Piedmont Electric works with licensed contractors to do our tree clearing. Hiring contract crews saves money which keeps rates down. These contract crews are highly skilled, properly equipped and under the supervision of specialized Piedmont Electric employees, like myself.

If you have any questions or concerns about Piedmont Electric’s clearing activities, please contact Jerry at 800.222.3107 or jerry.phelps@pemc.coop.