Right of Way

At Suwannee Vallely Electric Cooperative (SVEC), the operations department is in charge of the day-to-day management of over 4,100 miles of electric distribution. Operations is of great importance as it constructs and maintains SVEC’s infrastructure, ensuring safe and reliable energy delivery.

Because our power lines interface with private property, we often receive questions concerning several issues. The information below provides some insight and answers to some of these frequent questions and concerns.

Right of Way Requirements

  • Before a power line can be built, we require right-of-way easements from property owners along the selected route as necessary
  • Member will be responsible for cutting and clearing this right of way

SVEC linemen in bucket trucks working on power poles near treesWhat is a Right of Way Easement?

  • A type of easement or agreement that grants a utility the right to use, access, or transit a piece of property according to the terms of the easement
  • Typically granted by property owners to an electric utility for the purpose of constructing, operating, and maintaining power lines and other equipment

Right of Way Documents

Vegetation Management Program

To protect the investment of established infrastructure and new construction projects, it is imperative that we take a proactive and diverse approach in dealing with vegetation growing under and beside power lines.

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Tree trimming
  • Herbicide application
  • Mowing
  • Tree removal
Tree Trimming

Safety and service reliability are the 2 most important and necessary reasons for trimming trees near power lines.


Trimming trees on a consistent cycle is necessary for safety as it prevents unwanted contact between tree limbs and lines.

Service Reliability

Additionally, safety, as it relates to clearance, is directly related to service reliability. Because we live in an area where inclement weather is common, it’s that much more important that we maintain clearance. During storms and high winds, trees and limbs can sway and make contact with power lines, ultimately causing service interruptions or prolonged outages.

Clearance Specifications
  • Trees should be pruned before they actually touch power lines
  • Enough clearance needs be achieved to ensure trees and limbs do not come in contact with the power line before the next trimming cycle (once every 3 to 5 years)
Tree Removal

SVEC continually patrols its lines for hazardous or “danger trees”: trees that impose an imminent threat to infrastructure.

  • Due to lightning, standing water, and disease, dead trees are common and are a safety hazard to the general public because of falling potential onto roadways and power lines
  • SVEC may remove green trees as well that are directly under or so close to power lines that they require drastic measures to prune
Tree Planting Near Power Lines

SVEC’s operations department supports the philosophy of “the right tree in the right place” as a means of promoting tree species that are more “friendly” to power lines. This would include trees that:

  • Don’t get tall enough to come in contact with power lines
  • Are native to the area
  • Have good longevity

Right tree right place. Tall trees: oaks, pines, pecan trees.Mature height of 60 feet or less. 60 feet clearance between lines and tree. Medium trees: holly, little gem, star magnolia, dogwood, ligustrum. Mature height of 30 feet or less. 30 feet clearance between lines and tree. Small trees: junipers, fruit trees, crape myrtle, azalea, viburnum. Mature height of 20 feet or less 20 feet clearance between lines and tree. 15 foot clearance around power poles.

Herbicide Application

SVEC utilizes herbicides to selectively treat unwanted vegetation in our rights of way.

Herbicides are:

  • Applied post-trimming to lessen stem count of woody species
  • Applied to help ensure safety, service reliability, and easement access
  • Registered and regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency
  • Applied by licensed personnel