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What are the rules of electrical right-of-way maintenance?

When we flip a switch, we expect a light to turn on. When we plug our hair dryer in, we expect it to work. We understand how our appliances connect to electricity, but we don’t spend much time thinking about how our electricity gets to us. The answer is in our power lines — power lines are able to carry electricity from miles away to make sure we can accomplish tasks as minor as using an electric toothbrush and as major as keeping our family from overheating in the summer. Power lines are a necessity to our lives, and your co-op is responsible for making sure your power lines are working as efficiently and as safely as possible. 

In order to keep these power lines functional, co-ops may need to perform maintenance on these power lines. We do this through right-of-way laws that allow us to get to power lines and perform maintenance as necessary. If you want to know more about right-of-ways and what you can do to make maintenance easier for your co-op, read on. 

What is an electrical right-of-way? 

A right-of-way is an agreement between the co-op and a landowner that the co-op may go onto your land in order to perform maintenance on a power line. This right-of-way may also be called an easement. When you purchase a home that has power lines on the property, there is usually an agreement built into the purchase that gives your co-op the ability to operate and repair the power lines there. The co-op workers will always do their best to not disrupt your home when repairing, but understand the work they do is vital to keeping your power operational at all times. 

What rules should I know about right-of-way maintenance? 

In order to make the process of repairing power lines easier for everyone, there are certain rules that landowners should abide by. 

1. Remove all trees and tall plants 

Trees can be a major safety issue around power lines, as storms can bring them down and damage the lines. If a tree connects with a line, it could also cause a serious shock for anyone trying to climb the tree. Missouri law states that no trees may grow within 15 feet of a right-of-way on any side, and a co-op or utility may remove the tree or plant if necessary. If you own your home, keep this in mind as you landscape. Before planting, make sure you know how tall the plant will grow and if it is within the right-of-way. 

2. Don’t build anything 

When you’re building on your property, keep in mind that there should be no structures within 15 feet of the right-of-way. Not only could these structures impede our ability to repair your lines, they could catch on fire if a storm brings down the power line. Even if you think the building must be located there, understand that safety must come first. 

3. Be understanding 

It’s never ideal to have someone else on your property working on your land, but your co-op only wants to ensure that you have easy access to electricity at all times. Be respectful of their work and allow them time and space to complete any repairs. You’ll be thankful when you flip that switch and the light turns on! 

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