Cobb EMC is dedicated to providing our members with safe and reliable electric service. Tree branches growing too close to power lines can cause electric faults and outages, causing a safety hazard for our crews and the general public. As part of the ongoing maintenance of our electric distribution system, Cobb EMC crews must trim – and in some cases remove – trees and vegetation that can interfere with the power lines on a planned cycle.
Trees and brush can be conductors of electricity, and trimming is necessary to avoid contact with undergrowth that can result in outages and safety hazards. Ice can weigh branches down until they are in danger of touching lines. Thunderstorms or heavy rains can cause tree limbs (or a tree itself) to fall on overhead lines, taking out the power to your neighborhood. This can also cause energized lines to fall to the ground, posing a safety hazard to anyone nearby.
Primary wire: runs along the road
Service wire: runs into the house
What determines if a tree will be trimmed or removed?
Cobb EMC will consider removal of a tree within 15 feet of primary wire. Trees growing near service wire will be removed if they are endangering the line, dead, trunks are rubbing the wire or if they are in a weakened condition. Otherwise, Cobb EMC will trim the trees back 15 feet on each side of a primary line. If a tree on your property meets the guidelines for removal, mark it clearly with ribbon, tape or paint and be sure to move any objects that could be struck by the tree when it is cut down. Do not go near or touch a tree that is touching a power line. Other circumstances within these guidelines may result in exceptions and will be at the discretion of a Cobb EMC representative.
Why is Cobb EMC allowed to trim trees on my property?
Right-of-way and easement agreements allow Cobb EMC to access private property in order to maintain our distribution system. This work helps us access power lines for maintenance and repairs, but it also helps us improve the reliability of your electric service.
What can be done to prevent tree-related outages?
We can’t prevent bad weather, but we can reduce outages caused by falling limbs and trees. Our forestry department works year-round to maintain the right-of-way. How much they trim depends on your tree. If it’s fast-growing, the crews trim branches more than they would for slow-growing trees. This allows us to maintain our electric service reliability.
Does Cobb EMC clean up after tree trimming?
Yes, Cobb EMC will clean up after a trim service. If the tree is green, Cobb EMC will turn the limbs and branches into mulch. If the tree is dead, Cobb EMC will only cut the remaining into manageable lengths, because dead limbs may damage the chipper. The member will be responsible for disposal.
What happens to the trimmed branches?
As our forestry crews remove trimmed limbs and branches, they are chipped into wood chips that are available year-round, at no cost to Cobb EMC members, and delivered to your home or business on a first-come, first-served basis. Churches, schools and county organizations will receive priority.
How can you make yard work safer?
- When working in your yard, leave plenty of space between power lines and equipment, like ladders, that could come in contact with them.
- If your yard has trees or branches growing into the power lines, please do not attempt to trim them yourself. Contact Cobb EMC at 770-429-2100, and we’ll send our forestry crews to get your yard back in safe shape.
How can you make landscaping safer?
- Before you begin any digging project, call Georgia 811 to have underground utilities marked for free.
- Don’t plant shrubs or hedges at the base of power poles. It makes it harder for our crews to work on power lines if you have an outage.
- If you live in a newer neighborhood that has underground power lines, when planting trees or shrubs, maintain 10 feet of clearance from the front of the transformer and three feet on all other sides to allow Cobb EMC access. Maintaining clearance also keeps roots from interfering with underground lines running to the transformer.
- If you’re planning landscaping projects, remember to leave enough room between new plants and overhead power lines. You don’t have to give up your dream of a beautiful, shaded yard. You simply need to choose the right tree for the right place, planning for the mature height of a tree.
- Never plant trees directly under power lines. Short trees should be planted at least 25 feet away from power lines, while medium-sized trees should be planted at least 40 feet away from power lines. Keep in mind: Branches near power lines can be extremely dangerous.
What are recommended tree planting guidelines?
What if a tree on my property doesn't meet trim guidelines?
A tree that is outside of Cobb EMC’s maintenance guidelines will only be cut down, or dropped, if it is dead and endangering power lines.
What if I want to trim a tree that is close to power lines?
If a tree is too close to a power line, call us one business day in advance to inspect the tree’s clearance. If the tree is outside of Cobb EMC’s maintenance guidelines, we’ll create a safe environment for you to trim.
What if you spot an electrical hazard?
- If you see an electrical hazard, stay clear and call 911.
- Always assume power lines are energized. Remember, if a power line is touching a tree, the tree itself can be energized. Stay as far back from a fallen line as possible.
- If you see that your trees or branches are close to your power lines and could pose a threat, notify Cobb EMC at 770-429-2100. Please also call us if you see a tree fall into a power line or if you spot another hazardous condition. If the power line starts an electrical fire, contact your local fire department and stay away from the area.
Sources: U.S. Department of Energy, Safe Electricity
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