Gates County water tower, road, treesRight-of-way vegetation management

Roanoke Cooperative maintains rights-of-way for more than 2,000 miles of power lines in Hertford, Bertie, Gates, Northampton, Halifax, Chowan and Perquimans counties to help ensure service reliability.

Vegetation management on these rights-of-way poses one of the biggest challenges for the co-op. But it’s not just the amount of land to be managed that underscores its importance; service reliability and employee safety are also at stake. Trees that grow into electric lines can cause outages and endanger line crews.

Roanoke Cooperative has set high standards for developing its vegetation management program. The co-op uses a combination of spraying and trimming techniques to perform rights-of-way maintenance on its transmission and distribution system. Contractors perform ground-to-sky trimming to avoid contact with the power line.

Also, to keep equipment free of undesired weeds and plants that may hinder the operational efficiency of the system, co-op crews treat certain areas with a chemical spray. This spray provides a cost-effective, environmentally safe and longer-lasting means for managing trees and woody underbrush and is not harmful to humans or animals.

The chemical has a “plant-specific” mode of action, which means the active ingredient is absorbed into the leaves, travels to the root system, and interrupts the tree’s ability to process amino acids. The tree, and a good portion of the root system, is eradicated, thus 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 is also a best practice in the electric utility industry with significant cost-savings.