Power For Your Life Podcast | Season 1 - Episode 8
Trees provide the very necessities of life itself. They clean our air, protect our drinking water, create healthy communities and feed the human soul. But these life necessities are threatened around the globe.
In this episode, Nancy Gibler, vice president of business development for Central Electric Power Cooperative in Jefferson City, Mo. shares the importance of planting the right trees in right location, away from power lines.
Transcript – Power For Your Life – Season 1 | Episode 8
Original release date: April 20, 2020
Hello, I'm Blanche Kelly, a member of the Cuivre River Electric Cooperative. Cooperatives operate under seven guiding principles. Cuivre River Electric—CREC—exemplifies the principle of concern for community. From community grants to digging holes for a community landscaping project, CREC does what is needed for the community when the community needs it.
Darryll (Host): Welcome to the Power For Your Life podcast, where we focus on energy efficiency, the value of electric cooperative membership and safety around electricity. I'm Darryll Lindsey, your host, and today I'm visiting with Nancy Gibler, vice president of business development for Central Electric Power Cooperative in Jefferson City, Mo. Today's topic is a special edition for Arbor Day. First, I'd like to point out that we are abiding by the statewide stay-at-home mandate and that this podcast is being recorded using WebEx, so the sound quality may be somewhat different than what you're accustomed to. Nancy, thank you so much for joining me today for this special edition. Trees can provide the very necessities of life itself. They clean our air, protect our drinking water, create healthy communities and feed the human soul. But these life necessities are threatened around the globe. And Nancy, I know you were instrumental in an effort to educate people on the environmental benefits of not only planting trees but planting the right trees in the right locations. Talk if you would first about your green tree initiative.
Nancy (Guest): Well, first Darryll it's amazing what trees can do for community. They can often turn a piece of land into a park or an outdoor classroom. They make a beautiful first impression when a visitor drives into town, and if they are well placed, they can add shade and beauty to schools, courthouses and other public areas. In our instance, Central Electric Power Cooperative offers the green tree partnership and it's designed to assist communities in the planting of trees. We recognize the impact of the trees have an impact on the quality of life, and therefore we assist community groups with the purchase and planting of trees in the correct areas for the safety of our members. We also work directly with other state agencies which provide funding for trees as well. Projects that we consider eligible include those that provide significant impact on the community. And we often ask for a plan that outlines where the trees would be planted, and always making sure that they’re are clear of utility lines either above or below ground. And we're proud to partner with our distribution cooperatives and our communities to beautify the areas and provide shade and beauty to the area. You know, Darryll, a healthy community forest begins with careful planning and, with a little bit of research and layout, you can produce a landscape that will cool your home in the summer and tame the winter winds. A well-planned yard not only looks beautiful. But it will have trees in it that grow well in the soil in the moisture of your neighborhood and fits right into your environment. Your trees will be placed in the correct locations to avoid any issues with power lines and buildings. And of course, the beauty that it adds to your property increases its value.
Darryll (Host): And there are lots of things to take into account when planting trees. Should people just focus on something that is really pretty to look at, or that just bears fruit?
Nancy (Guest): Darryll, it's important to plan before you plant a tree. A person should start by asking what the trees purpose is. Is it being planted for aesthetics, privacy, shade from the sun, a wind break or for some other purpose? By determining the trees purpose, a person can then select the proper tree. You should look then at the location where the tree will be planted and review site limitations. For example, what is the hardiness zone? What is the maximum height and spread for a tree into space when it, especially when it's full grown? What are the sun exposure and soil conditions? Are there any overhead or underground power lines or other utilities to be taken into consideration when you are deciding where to plant the tree? I will note that there is a wonderful tool available on Arbor Day Foundation's website. It's called the tree wizard and it will help anyone who is wishing to plant a tree to identify the best location for their tree project. It takes into account geographic location of the tree; the types of trees you are interested in—whether you're interested in in a tree, perhaps for shade, evergreens, flowering, fruit. It also considers the soil types in your area, your typical sun exposure, tree height, and how far the branches spread out. And most importantly, how fast the tree grows. It really is quite a handy tool that can be found online.
Darryll (Host): You know Nancy, you mentioned the Arbor Day Foundation website. You can find out more information from them at ArborDay.org. That website has been a great resource for today's podcast. And Nancy, let's talk a little bit about tree health. Why is it so important that we should consider the health of trees before we plant them?
Nancy (Guest): Darryll, tree health is an important consideration when planting as well as when you're caring for your existing trees throughout the years. It's important to identify problems that result from drought, disease and pests, and even improper planting so that you can help maintain the life and health of your trees. For example, the past several years there have been some invasive pests that have brought to light the importance of looking at your trees on your
property, checking them both spring and fall to regularly assess their health, their strength and their future viability. An example of one of those pests would be the emerald ash borer. This beetle has devastated many areas by boring and feeding under the bark and thereby weakening ash trees. By checking on the health of your trees, you can tell which trees need to either be treated by a professional, perhaps address the pests, or in the event that the tree becomes too weak or dead, that it be removed safely. Because basically a weekend or dead tree is a danger tree and should be removed for your safety. We often say that it's best to have professional assistance with the removal and disposal of the tree so that any remaining pests are not transported to other areas and also for your own personal safety.
Darryll (Host): Very important information. Let's take a short break and when we come back, Nancy is going to provide more details about right-of-way maintenance and why it is so critical for electric utilities as well as discuss some very important safety tips…when we return.
Darryll (Host): Back with more of the Power For Your Life podcast and our discussion with Nancy Gibler from Central Electric Power Cooperative. Nancy, before the break we were talking about the importance of trees to our environment. Let's shift gears now and talk a little bit about overhead power lines and how they are competing for some of the same real estate. Line workers safety and the safety of the public is crucial. So why are utility easements so important?
Nancy (Guest): Well, basically a utility easement allows the utility the right to use and access specific areas of another person's property for the placement of utilities. Uh, the easement is typically attached to the property deed, so it passes on when the property is transferred or sold. Easements are important in that they provide a clear path for utilities to extend their lines and pipes in order to serve farms, homes and businesses along the route. And these easements outline the responsibilities of both the utility and landowner for the size and maintenance of the right-of-way. In the instance of an electric cooperative, an
electric right away is a strip of land that is used to construct, maintain, repair, or replace overhead and underground power lines. And the right-of-way also allows the utility to provide clearance from trees and other things that could interfere with the line installation, maintenance and operation. And again, everything we do is for the safety of our members. And power lines and trees don't mix.
Darryll (Host): So, Nancy that all burning question what kind of trees and shrubs are acceptable inside the utility right-of-way?
Nancy (Guest): We typically recommended there be no trees or shrubs planted within the right-of-way. A clear right-of-way allows the line workers to safely access the poles and lines for installation, maintenance and operation. And by maintaining these clear rights-of-way, we also keep our members safe by reducing the chances of an accidental contact. A tree provides a clear path for a child to climb from safety into the danger zone. Danger increases when trees and power lines make contact. But the tree does not even have to make contact directly with the line to cause deadly results. Electricity can jump or arc from the power line to a nearby conductor such as a tree. An effective right-of-way program helps keep our littlest member safe. And even trees planted outside of the right-of-way may be deemed to be danger trees, especially if they have a large canopy spread or if their branches are very tall; either of which could result in a tree falling into a power line, or brushing against the power line during a storm. Many electric cooperatives employ or work with certified arborist assist in the management of their right-of-way programs, and it's their professional knowledge that helps the cooperative keep its efforts focused on clear right-of-ways and remove only what is absolutely necessary for the safe operation of the power lines.
Darryll (Host): What about other items like deer stands?
Nancy (Guest): Items placed in the right-of-way, such as deer stands or hunting blinds, are hazards to everyone, both utility workers as well as our members. Also placing signs such as garage sale signs on power poles are also a risk. They increase the risk for serious injury to both the persons using those items, so perhaps hunters as well as the line workers tending the lines. It's important to keep in mind that electricity can jump, and often does when a potential conductor like a metal ladder comes within a certain proximity of the lines. We often emphasize the 10-foot rule—always keep yourself and all objects at least 10 feet from any overhead power line. This is for your safety and ours.
Darryll (Host): So, the bottom line is really don't plant anything or place anything in the utility right of way, correct?
Nancy (Guest): Correct! It is not worth the risk to place anything in the electric right of way.
Again, member safety is a top priority of every electric cooperative.
Darryll (Host): Some very important safety information indeed. Listeners if you can do so safely, grab a pen and a piece of paper. I've got some websites for you to write down for more information. The Arbor Day Foundation has provided many items of information for today's podcast. Visit them on the web at Arborday.org. And Arbordayblog.org. For electrical safety information, visit our safety partner, safeelectricity.org. And as always, you can find out more information on energy efficiency, safety and member value at Members First-dot-co op. Lots of things to think about this Arbor Day. Nancy Gibler from Central Electric Power Cooperative. Thank you for sharing your expertise today.
Nancy (Guest): Thank you for having me Darryll.