Keeping rights of way cleared, and why it matters

November 5, 2020

If losing power tops the list of complaints that people may have about electric companies, probably the second is about cutting down trees.

Keeping  rights of way cleared, and  why it matters

Understandably, homeowners take great pride in landscaping and planting trees to enhance their residence, so it can be upsetting to watch trees being cut down or trimmed back from the right of ways near their property.

While maintaining rights-of-way is one of the biggest challenges that CREC faces when carrying out its mission to provide safe, reliable and affordable electricity to our members, it’s also very necessary. CREC is responsible for some 6,000 miles of power lines. Trees that are planted too close, or are growing in or around lines can significantly impact the co-op’s ability to provide power. It’s also the number one cause of blinks and outages.

As an electric utility, CREC does have the legal right to trim and/or remove trees and vegetation from rights of ways if they interfere with power lines or restrict access to utility poles. Although permission to prune is not required, unless CREC encounters a dangerous or emergency situation, members are notified whenever possible before CREC removes a yard tree or previously trimmed tree.

To help avoid losing trees or prevent potential damage to your house, Scott Skopec, supervisor of right-of-way maintenance, has these tips for homeowners who are considering planting trees:

  • Do a little planning and research on the best types of trees to plant near your home and their placement—BEFORE you start planting. Properly chosen and placed, shade trees can help reduce your energy needs.
  • Choose trees that grow well in our region. Plant/landscape away from overhead powerlines and underground utilities to help improve public safety and prevent the unintended disruption of power.
  • Before you start digging, call 1-800-DIG-RITE or 8-1-1 to ensure you won’t hit any underground utility lines.

“No one likes to see a tree cut down,” Skopec says. “When it comes to right-of-way maintenance, CREC’s goal is to cut and trim only the trees necessary to maintain reliable service for all of our members, and to use methods that preserve the health of the trees. As a locally-owned electric cooperative, CREC respects the rights of property owners — and understands because we live here too.”

To inquire about tree education and right-of-way maintenance, contact Skopec at 800-392-3709, or visit our website at


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