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Vegetation Management

Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative recognizes and appreciates that trees are valuable assets to our members' landscapes and to the quality of life in our area.  However, this must be balanced with the constant threat to our members' electric service because trees and tree branches are the most frequent causes of power outages for your co-op.  Trees adjacent to MCEC rights-of-way must be kept pruned and clear of the power lines to help us provide a safe and reliable supply of electricity.

There are several issues often questioned concerning vegetation maintenance (re-clearing) and new right-of-way clearing activities. The links below provide answers to these questions as well as valuable information about our vegetation management program.

The MCEC Vegetation Management Program

New Right-of-Way Clearing: New rights-of-way are cleared of trees and vegetation prior to performing line construction activities. The clearing meets the specifications of MCEC's Engineering and Operations Department as well as National Standards. 

Right-of-Way Vegetation Maintenance: Tree crews work to re-clear MCEC rights-of-way on a continuing basis in support of our ongoing re-clearing cycle. Herbicide spraying on rights-of-way is performed in addition to re-clearing to help prevent undergrowth of vegetation and extend our cycle. Vegetation management cycles help reduce tree related outages and expedite service restoration during storms or inclement weather. 

Check out this footage of MCEC contractors clearing rights-of-way with helicopter. 



Check out this amazing footage of our contract crews trimming rights of way via helicopter.

Posted by Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative on Monday, April 7, 2014


Reasons for Tree Pruning and Clearing

The two most important reasons for tree pruning and keeping clear rights-of-way are member safety and service reliability. Trees must be pruned to prevent contact between power lines and tree limbs to reduce the constant threat of tree related power outages. Trees near power lines are a safety hazard and must also be removed or pruned on a regular basis to prevent children from climbing the trees and coming in contact with the lines. Limbs over hanging power lines must be pruned because of the threat of falling on the power lines during inclement weather resulting in extensive outages and damage. Trees that grow too close to power lines can sway during inclement weather, such as thunder storms or high winds and touch the power lines. This can cause a potentially serious fire and safety hazard along with power outages. 

Notification of Vegetation Maintenance

MCEC will use its phone notification system to contact each consumer on the circuit prior to the start of re-clearing. The notification will be sent to the primary contact phone number associated with that account. However, notification is not always possible when tree crews are working on outages, emergencies, and cutting of danger trees. 

Clearance Specifications

In all situations, trees near primary lines should be pruned before they actually touch the power lines and enough clearance must be obtained so the trees do not grow back into the lines before the vegetation maintenance crews make the cycle to prune them again. 
Line Clearances: The minimum clearance for three phase, two phase, single phase primary lines, and open wire secondaries (un-insulated wires) is 10 feet from the wire on each side. Maintaining clearance on primary lines helps reduce tree related outages during inclement weather and storms. The preferred minimum clearance is three feet on each side of all service drops and secondary wires (insulated wires). The 10' horizontal minimum clearance will be maintained from "ground to sky" on all three phase lines. Effort will be made to eliminate all trees, tree parts, and growth points beneath the wires and all weak, diseased, and dead limbs above the wires which may fall or blow into the wires. 
Transformer Clearances:  That green box in your yard contains an underground service transformer. Never enclose it or block it with fencing, shrubs or anything else with less than a 10-foot-wide gate or opening. Be it dark or rainy, MCEC linemen and servicemen need to get outages fixed quickly and safely. That’s impossible if they can’t see or get to the problem. 
4′ on the back
4′ on each side
10′on the front
If these clearances aren’t maintained, MCEC may need to remove obstructions. Please do not replace them. 
There’s enough voltage inside a green box to kill a person. Before you dig anywhere near one in your yard, call 811. That’s the number for PUPS, a free line-locating service.

Tree Removal

Trees that are severely leaning, dead, decayed, or otherwise hazardous to the power lines are classified as "danger trees." MCEC will cut danger trees outside of the easement that pose a threat to our power lines. In improved areas such as yards, the dead and danger trees will be cut down, cut up into manageable lengths, left on-site, and the limbs will be chipped and hauled away. In unimproved and/or wooded areas, danger trees will be cut down and left as is on-site. MCEC will not clean up, remove, or haul away any dead tree debris due to excessive cost of disposal. Specific requests for tree cutting can be made by contacting MCEC at 803-749-6400 or 888-813-8000 and these will be evaluated on a case by case basis. MCEC reserves the right to refuse to cut or remove any tree which, in its judgment, poses little or no threat to our lines or that can be safely cut or removed by a private tree company with no damage to our lines. 

Services and Outdoor Lights

MCECs vegetation crews will prune limbs to maintain adequate clearance around the service wire to your meter during our re-clearing cycle. MCEC's vegetation crews will also prune limbs to maintain adequate clearance around the service wire to MCEC leased outdoor lights during our re-clearing cycle. Pruning limbs for outdoor light pattern or to improve light output is the responsibility of the member. All service wires will only be cleared of small branches not large limbs or trees over the service wires. If you, or a private tree company hired by you, feel that it is unsafe to work close to the service wire or to cut or remove trees next to it, please call MCEC for an appointment during regular business hours to schedule a crew to disconnect your electric service and re-install it after the tree work is complete. There is no charge for this service if performed during regular business hours. 

Debris Disposal

Vegetation Management's Rights-of-Way Re-clearing: Branches and brush debris from the re-clearing activities in improved areas, such as yards and lawns, will be chipped, cleaned up, and hauled away. Large limbs and wood will be cut in firewood lengths and left on-site. 

Material from our chipping operation is available to our consumers at no charge. If you would like to have some of the chips for mulch or compost, it is best to ask the vegetation maintenance tree crews when they are working in your area. You may also obtain some of these chips by calling our Vegetation Management Coordinator at 803-749-6400 or 888-813-8000, or e-mail The chips are delivered by the truck load in an "as is" condition to the closest areas where the crews are working. Small amounts are not delivered. 

If crews are working in an area where no requests have been made for chips, chipped material will be spread in our easement and mowed as a means of disposal. 

Branches and brush debris that are pruned and left in unimproved areas, such as, woods and areas not maintained by the property owner, will be mowed and left on site. Branches, wood, and brush debris generated as a result of storms and storm restoration will not be cleaned up by MCEC. 

Dead and Danger Trees: Danger trees cut outside of the easement in improved areas, such as yards and lawns, will be cut down, cut up into manageable lengths, and left on site. Dead and danger trees cut in unimproved areas, such as woods and areas not maintained, will be cut down and left on-site. MCEC will not clean up, remove, or haul away any dead tree debris due to excessive cost of disposal. 

Tree Planting Near Power Lines

When you start landscaping around your home or yard, please look up before planting trees. Do not plant trees if power lines are overhead. Planted vegetation within the MCEC right-of-way is subject to our re-clearing procedures. When planting trees outside of the right-of-way, you will need to take into account the species of tree as well as the distance from the right-of-way in order to minimize the effects of our re-clearing procedures. If you have any questions about this or any vegetation management issue, please contact us at 803-749-6400, 888-813-8000, or email


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