Clearing for a purpose

Vegetation management leads to system reliability, fewer outages

Posted on Jul 26 2017 in Clark County REMC

At Clark County REMC, we’re committed to providing you with reliable power. There are some things we can’t prevent — high winds, ice storms, tornados — but we do what we can to prevent other outage culprits.

Weather-related events, such as high winds and lightning strikes, are the largest single cause for power outages at Clark County REMC, accounting for 43 percent of the outage hours in 2016. But vegetation growth and decay comes in a close second at 22 percent. When trees or other plants grow too close to power lines, they cause damage to electrical lines and equipment, and eventually lead to our members losing power.

To “cut back” on potential tree-related problems, Clark County REMC operates an aggressive vegetation management program. Our right-of-way (ROW) supervisor looks for foliage growing under lines, overhanging branches, leaning or other types of “danger” trees that could pull down a power line if they fell, as well as trees that could grow into lines. It’s a job that’s never done. With 1,794 miles of distribution lines, by the time crews finish trimming the entire system every few years, vegetation has started to grow back at the starting point.

Clearing the ROW is critical to keeping our members’ lights on. If a tree encroaches near our power lines, our vegetation management team will trim back branches and brush using chainsaws, bucket trucks, tree climbers, brush chippers and mowers. Chemical control methods can also be used as a way to support the growth of low growing plant species that will outcompete the tall trees growing beneath power lines.

ROW clearing also keeps your family safe by ensuring that tree branches do not become energized due to close contact with a downed power line. Clark County REMC’s power lines can carry up to 12,470 volts, and an energized tree branch is incredibily dangerous — even deadly. Be mindful when around trees close to power lines, and make sure your children know that climbing trees near power lines is extrememly dangerous.

As we work to keep a safe, reliable, and affordable supply of power flowing to your home or business, we need your help. Let us know if you notice trees or branches that might pose a risk to our power lines. Even more important, before planting trees in your yard, think about how tall they may grow and how wide their branches may spread. As a rule of thumb, ground-to-sky clearance should be available for a distance of at least 10 feet on each side of our utility poles to give power lines plenty of space. Choose tree varieties with care and plant with power lines in mind. To find out more about proper tree planting, visit

Thanks for your help as we work together to keep your electricity reliable. To report trees you think may pose a problem, contact us at 812-246-3316 or send us an email at