Edisto Electric’s right-of-way program is managed by Clint Smoak, Supervisor of Maintenance and Metering. Clint has been employed by the cooperative over 21 years and carries a commercial license from the Department of Pesticide Regulation.
Right-of-way maintenance is accomplished through side trimming and removing trees and limbs, bush hogging underbrush to allow access, and the use of environmentally friendly herbicides. Urban areas are maintained utilizing a two-year cycle and rural areas are on a four-year cycle. EEC spends over $400,000 dollars a year trimming, treating, and clearing right-of-way.
Our right-of-way clearance is 15 feet on each side of the power line. If trimming needs to be done the tree should be left in a healthy state, with some aesthetic value. If this cannot be accomplished, we may opt to remove the tree if it is cost effective rather than create an eyesore and future problems. A danger tree is one that is partially dead, shows sign of rot, or has insect infestation, cankers, eroded root systems, conifers with brown needles, or is a deciduous tree that will no longer leaf out and clearly will cause damage to a Edisto Electric power line that can create an unsafe condition.
Our crews pay special attention when evaluating the line clearance before trimming or removing a tree. The National Electric Safety Code requires us to follow a certain amount of clearance around wires and trees. This can depend on voltage, the tree’s growth rate and other characteristics, and the re-clearing cycle – how frequently it will need to be re-cleared. In cases where we’ve encountered large established trees on right-of-way, we have found that the removal of limbs helps to redirect the future re-growth away from the wires, thereby eliminating the need to remove the entire tree. This also keeps maintenance costs to a minimum while helping to insure that the tree won’t need drastic trimming in the future.