Trees & Right-of-Way

In order to provide safe, reliable electrical service, we maintain the rights-of-way under our power lines. We do this through right-of-way and vegetation management. This requires pruning, removing, cutting brush and applying herbicides to prevent vegetation from interrupting your electric service.

Right-of-Way Use

Rights-of-way are acquired by Georgia Power for the majority of its utility corridors. Learn how we keep the public safe by maintaining or clearing areas around facilities such as poles, wires and structures.

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Georgia's High-Voltage Act

Georgia law requires contacting the Utilities Protection Center at 811 or 1-800-282-7411 to request safeguards before beginning any work near electrical lines carrying more than 750 volts.

Read the Act

 

 

Certifications

Tree Line USA

The Arbor Day Foundation, in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters, recognizes public and private utilities that demonstrate practices that protect and enhance America's urban forests. The Tree Line USA program promotes the dual goals of safe, reliable electric service and abundant, healthy trees across utility service areas. The Tree Line USA program seeks to promote best practices in utility arboriculture and public education through five core standards: quality tree care, annual worker training, tree planting and public education, tree-based energy conservation programs and participation in Arbor Day.

Property Access

What rights do tree crews have to come on my property?

We have an obligation to maintain our electric facilities to provide safe and reliable electric service, as well as the right to enter and leave private property. We comply with the National Electric Safety Code (NESC) and other rules and regulations that govern the utility industry.

How will I know when your tree crews are in my neighborhood?

We make an effort to notify property owners in person before any work is done. If no one is at home, a door hanger will be left on your main entry door with the projected date for pruning and a contact number.

How does Georgia Power have the right to access my property?

We have an obligation to maintain our electric facilities to provide safe and reliable electric service, as well as the right to enter and leave private property. We comply with the National Electric Safety Code (NESC) and other rules and regulations that govern the utility industry.

Typically, the easement agreements obtained by Georgia Power prior to construction of a transmission line include the right of ingress and egress to and from rights-of-way.

Pruning & Planting

Why does Georgia Power prune trees?

Trees that come in contact with power lines are a major cause of outages. Timely pruning to maintain adequate clearance between trees and power lines reduces outages, which improves the quality and reliability of electrical service. Safety is another reason to prune trees. Our customers, employees and contractors can be exposed to life-threatening risks if limbs touch lines and become energized.

How often do you prune trees?

Urban areas are usually pruned on a three-year cycle, while more rural areas are pruned every four years or more.

How do you determine which trees to prune?

The need to prune a tree is based on its growth rate and proximity to a power line. Small, slow-growing trees need less pruning than tall, fast-growing species. The farther a tree is from a power line easement, the less often it will have to be pruned.

Will pruning harm my trees?

Georgia Power prunes trees according to industry standards such as those created by the American Standards Institute. These pruning methods capitalize on a tree's natural growth and defense mechanisms to avoid harming it.

When is tree removal the best option?

Georgia Power may need to remove trees that are a risk to electrical service and public safety, particularly in cases involving repeated or severe pruning. When tree removal is the best option, we may provide a suitable low-growing replacement tree to the customer. Only low-growing species are permitted on defined width easements; tall-growing species are removed when found.

Can the crews prune other trees while on my property?

No. We will only prune trees that pose a potential hazard to our lines.

Why can't Georgia Power just prune the tops of trees down instead of removing them completely from the transmission rights-of-way?

In most cases, Georgia Power transmission lines are built to a standard for reliability that allows for vegetation that reaches a maximum height of 15 feet to exist under the line and maintain proper clearance as defined by company, industry and regulatory standards. Topping of vegetation that can exceed 15 feet is only a short-term solution that results in a tree, or shrub, with more potential conflicts with the transmission line(s). In addition to utility conflicts, topping is not a professionally recognized method of tree pruning and promotes starvation, shock, insect, disease, weak branching, irregular growth and aesthetic problems that typically result in an undesirable or dead tree.

What types of vegetation can be planted on the transmission rights-of-way?

Georgia Power understands the desire of property owners to maintain plantings on the portions of their properties located within Georgia Power easements. Currently, Georgia Power allows vegetation that reaches a published maximum height of 15 feet or below to be planted on transmission rights-of-way. However, the provision of reliable electric service must remain paramount. The permission for plantings may be modified or revoked, in whole or in part, at any time and from time to time by Georgia Power, in its sole discretion. Current and future rules, regulations and orders of federal and state authorities may also be applicable and restrict or prohibit plantings. In connection with any such restriction, prohibition, modification or revocation, whether by Georgia Power or pursuant to such rules, regulations or orders, Georgia Power reserves the right to require trimming or removal, at Georgia Power's sole discretion, of plantings previously permitted. If there are any questions on the acceptability of a planting, please contact Georgia Power prior to planting.

In the past, Georgia Power approved trees and shrubs that are now being removed. Why has this changed?

Typically, easements state Georgia Power has the right to maintain the rights-of-way free and clear of vegetation. Unless legally recorded otherwise, Georgia Power reserves the right to require removal, at Georgia Power's sole discretion, of plantings previously permitted. This type of change would most likely occur in response to revisions of electrical standards and/or regulations requiring modifications to acceptable vegetation clearance requirements to maintain safety and reliability of the transmission system.

Why does Georgia Power perform vegetation work, including tree pruning and mowing, on transmission rights-of-way?

Transmission lines require regular maintenance and are only insulated by air. Company, industry and federal standards have been developed to ensure the safe and reliable delivery of electricity to customers, which includes maintaining minimum clearances of objects from transmission lines. Georgia Power's integrated vegetation management program ensures the transmission system meets these requirements while also providing access to maintain facilities.

Herbicide

Can I purchase the same herbicides to use on my property?

Yes. All herbicides we use are non-restricted, which means anyone can buy them.

Does Georgia Power use herbicides on transmission rights-of-way? Are they safe and are they necessary?

Georgia Power uses qualified contractors to apply herbicides as part of an integrated vegetation management program that also includes mechanical and manual practices. All contractors are trained and licensed to handle, transport and utilize herbicides and pesticides as required by the state of Georgia. All herbicides utilized on the transmission rights-of-way are non-restricted. Use of herbicides allows for the selective removal of undesirable vegetation with minimal impact to the surrounding environment while extending the time interval between more invasive practices such as mechanical mowing. Rights-of-way maintained with an integrated vegetation management program that includes herbicides frequently result in more ecologically healthy and aesthetically pleasing corridors than those maintained only by mechanical means.

Mowing

Why don't you mow more often?

We use a combination of mowing and herbicide to manage fast-growing, tall woody species. We mow once every six years to remove vegetation before its height reaches 15 feet. This cycle is a best practice to ensure a safe and reliable electric system, as well as the most economical.

Can I mow the easement more often?

Yes. If you are the property owner, you can mow more often. If you are not the owner, you will need permission from the property owner.

Why doesn't Georgia Power mow the transmission rights-of-way more often?

In most cases, Georgia Power's transmission lines are built within easements across private property and are not owned by Georgia Power. Georgia Power periodically mows these easements to provide access to its facilities and to maintain acceptable vegetation on the rights-of-way. More frequent mowing to meet local ordinances, aesthetics or other requirements is the responsibility of the property owner.

Other

Can I get wood chips/mulch from Georgia Power?

Over the past few years, the demand for wood chips has increased faster than the amount we can supply, so we can no longer take delivery requests. Wood chips come from trees that have been trimmed and are available to residents when tree crews are in your area. Only full loads are available, and an average truckload is equivalent to three to four pickup truckloads. These wood chips consist of many tree species, are irregular in shape and color, and can include some twigs and rakings. For more information, ask a tree crew working in your area.

Why doesn't Georgia Power bury transmission lines to save trees and shrubs that grow taller than 15 feet in maximum height?

The burying of transmission lines is extremely expensive, in comparison to above-ground construction, and cost prohibitive to the ability of providing affordable electricity to customers. In addition to cost, underground transmission lines still require rights-of-way that are free of shrubs and trees.

Why won't Georgia Power put the lines underground and spare trees?

In older neighborhoods with overhead lines, placing lines underground would be difficult and expensive. It would also require Georgia Power to dig into the trees' roots, which could harm the trees, make them susceptible to disease or even kill them.