Spray crews help maintain reliability

Posted on Jul 05 2021 in Southern Indiana Power
Steve Seibert

Southern Indiana Power serves members across more than 1,600 miles of line. These lines must be kept clear of trees and vegetation to supply you with reliable service.

Clearing the right-of-way (ROW) is critical to keeping your lights on. Power interruptions occur when trees or bush grow too close to power lines. Of course, in major storms, trees will fall into the power lines; breaking poles and causing extended outage restoration time. 

A right-of-way refers to a strip of land underneath or around power lines that your electric co-op has the right and responsibility to maintain and clear. Contract crews such as K&K Dirtworks, Hoffman and Townsend engage in maintaining our ROW.

Southern Indiana Power spends approximately $1 million a year trying to maintain our ROW. Members can help by not planting trees, plants or bushes under or near the power lines. A general guideline of maintaining a safe ROW is 20 feet on either side of the pole line. If a tree encroaches on this distance, our contract crews will trim back branches and brush using approved methods; utilizing tools such as chainsaws, mowers, bucket trucks, tree climbers and brush chippers.

Chemical control methods may also be used to restrict the growth of low growing plants beneath the power lines. The herbicides we use only target woody plants containing specific enzymes and are approved by the EPA and the Department of Agriculture. The herbicides have a “plant-specific” mode of action, which means the active ingredient is absorbed into the leaves and travels to the root system. A good portion of the root system is removed eventually eliminating the repetitive cycle of cutting and regrowth of trees under power lines. Not only is the use of herbicides more effective in maintaining the area, but it’s also a best practice used in the electric utility industry with significant cost-savings.

Southern Indiana Power remains committed to providing you with safe, reliable service. Having a ROW maintenance plan allows us to keep lines clear before trees become bigger problems. Having a consistent eight-year ROW cycle helps minimize maintenance costs incurred by reacting to ROW issues after they’ve become a problem.

We believe trees add beauty to our communities. Next time you landscape around your home, consider the location of the power lines.