Maintaining Right of Way
Article was added on Thursday, July 08, 2010
Santee Electric Cooperative maintains right-of-way along about
5,500 miles of power lines in Florence, Clarendon, Georgetown and
Williamsburg counties to insure service reliability. Trees that
grow into electric lines will cause outages and endanger crews as
well as the general public.
In the past SEC has used the cutting approach to this issue on a
rotating basis of mechanical cutting one half of the system each
year. Cutting down trees, bushhogging and using chain saws to clear
corridors beneath power lines causes the underbrush to sprout out
new, thicker growth and produce new saplings, causing more work to
cut the area each time. The battle is never-ending.
This year, SEC began spraying an environmentally safe herbicide,
Accord, similar to Roundup, to try and more effectively combat this
problem. While the dead brush may not be very attractive right now,
it is extremely important to leave the plants in place to allow the
chemicals to penetrate the root systems and cut down on the need
for additional labor in the future.
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
eliminated, thus eventually eliminating the repetitive cycle of
cutting and regrowth of trees under power lines.
Other than the occasional new sapling, the use of the herbicide
then becomes less and less needed with each cycle.
When SEC considered a herbicide program, we set high standards.
We found that a right-of-way spraying program is considered more
effective and safer for the environment when compared to bushhogs
and chains saws. SEC also chose to use a low volume approach rather
than a general spraying method. This means individuals walked the
lines with backpacks and hand held wands spraying individual plants
rather than larger wide area spraying that would have affected more
SEC abides by all Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Why is this program considered environmentally friendly?
- Accord works with a plant's system but is not metabolized by
humans and other mammals.
- Accord is safe for birds, fish, and honeybees.
- Accord can be used to battle non-native water plants that can
invade and overrun fishponds, lakes, and sensitive coastal
- Unlike petroleum products, Accord will not leach into
groundwater. Any spray that does fall to the ground bonds to the
upper layer of soil, and stays there until it becomes inert.
- The low growing plants establish a permanent wildlife habitat
which is created in the rights-of-way. This new habitat will be
especially suitable for quail, wild turkey, and other
Not only is the use of herbicides more effective in maintaining
the area, it is a best practice in the electric utilities industry
with significant cost savings.
Because keeping the lights on is our primary goal, we are
clearing the trees that could grow into overhead power lines that
deliver electricity to you and your neighbors because they are the
greatest threat to reliable electric service.
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