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Trees and Electricity Don't Mix

Trees falling or coming into contact with power lines is by far the most common cause of power outages on the Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative system. That's why MLEC has a strong and proactive program to keep trees and brush from the lines.While trees and electricity are great to have, they do not mix.

When they do, power reliability and personal safety are at risk.

When trees touch, or come close to touching, an overhead electric wire, several things can happen. Children climbing that tree can get shocked or killed. The branch can break from the weight of snow and ice in winter and fall on the wire causing a power outage. Winds can whip limbs into the line and break one or both. Or, a branch can merely brush against an energized wire and catch on fire.

MLEC contracts with workers who are trained to trim trees so limbs are a safe distance from overhead power lines. Utility workers urge homeowners to leave the trimming to professionals when branches are within 10 feet of a power line. They're trained to know which direction the pieces will fall, unlike the homeowner, whose cut might land a branch on top of a live wire.

For more information e-mail MLEC's Right-of-Way Coordinator. 

Tips to remember:

  • Look up when planting trees. If you see an overhead line, don't plant a tree underneath, even a small one.
  • Ask your nursery how tall your baby tree will grow once it's mature. If it is expected to reach within 20 feet of the power lines, plant it somewhere else.
  • Find out how sprawling the tree's branches will be at maturity. A tree planted 10 feet away from an electric line can still interfere with the wire if the branches spread.
  • Don't plant anything within 3 feet of your electric meter. The device should be accessible to meter readers.
  • Is the electric line underground? If so, be sure to call your electric cooperative before you do any digging.


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