Right-of-Way (ROW) Maintenance Program

Robinson loop, AK, heavily wooded and shrubby area with power line above
Sterling Robinson Loop Area Before ROW clearing
Robinson loop, AK, heavily wooded and shrubby area with power line above
Sterling Robinson Loop Area After ROW clearing

You depend on HEA to deliver you with safe, reliable power and we take that responsibility very seriously. The majority of our power outages are weather and tree-related. That’s one of the unfortunate realities of living in the beautiful, and heavily treed area of Southcentral Alaska. Because of this, HEA has a robust Right-of-Way Maintenance program. Your Co-op’s tree trimming program is not random, but by design and strives to be proactive. This program is based on industry best practices designed to prevent dangerous situations and ensure electric reliability.

Upcoming System Trim Schedule

HEA and its contractor, Carlos Tree Service, attempts to notify members of its ROW clearing plans well in advance. Members in areas where power lines will be cleared should receive a postcard notification. Click on the link below to view the 2023 ROW clearing overview map:

HEA’s 2023 ROW Clearing Map 

Please be patient with our crews as we do our best to protect our community from fire hazards and power outages. We will do our best to respect your private property but if you think we can do better, please reach out to us through our Member Services Department at (800) 478-8551.

DID YOU KNOW: Trees falling on power lines are one of the leading causes of power outages. Operations Contracts & Mechanical Shop Superintendent, Jeff Jaworski explains that HEA’s goal is to prevent power outages and stop devastating fires. Want to learn more > listen to Jeff Jaworski’s podcast with Chris Story, On Top of the World.

L to R: Sterling Robinson Loop Area (before ROW Clearing); Sterling Robinson Loop Area (after ROW Clearing); and Diamond Ridge Distribution and Transmission ROW Clearing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does HEA clear rights of way?
HEA maintains 1,500 miles of overhead power line. A clear ROW does the following:

  • Increases the safety of people, property, and equipment.
  • Allows our crews to access power lines, identify outage causes, and make repairs safely and quickly. Clear, easily accessible ROWs allow for fewer, shorter outages, and an overall higher level of system reliability.
  • Prevents hazard trees from falling into power lines. Trees falling into power lines are a leading cause of power outages.
  • Contributes to fire safety. A cleared ROW improves firefighting access and keeps fuels down, decreasing the risk of a wildfire spreading quickly.
  • Meets federal requirements. Clearing and properly maintaining the ROW is required by the National Electric Safety Code.
How much area will be cleared?

Most right-of-way easements are 20-feet wide. 10 feet on each side of the centerline from the power poles. We cut all brush to the ground, so there is a ground-to-sky clearance.

What is a hazard tree?

Hazard trees are trees with severe defects, which may cause the tree or part of the tree, to fail and damage our equipment, such as a high-voltage power line. Examples include:

  • Dead trees
  • Decayed trunks or root systems
  • Severely leaning or overhanging trees
  • Trees with high potential to fall into a line due to snow load
  • Trees infected by spruce bark beetles

HEA’s Operations Department can evaluate hazardous trees to determine if there’s a potential danger. If it is determined that a tree poses an unacceptable risk to our equipment, we may remove it. Site visits are rarely needed with the member present. To report a tree, you suspect may be hazardous, contact our Member Services Department.

Please note: Due to limited resources, we do not remove trees that are not in danger of damaging our equipment. If you are clearing around your service drop and suspect you may fall a tree into the power line, we recommend you hire a tree contractor.

If it is an overhead service, the member can coordinate a line drop for $60 then cut the tree(s). If other utilities are along the same overhead route coordination with the other utilities would be the responsibility of the homeowner.

  • Never attempt to trim or remove hazard trees yourself. The result could be damage to HEA facilities and you will be financially responsible for any repairs. When in uncertain please contact HEA to discuss.
  • Never touch a tree in contact with a power line. Trees do conduct electricity and can cause serious injury or death.
How are members notified of HEA’s ROW clearing plans?

Carlos Tree Service attempts to notify residents well in advance. Even if we will not be working on your property, we may have to access our work area through your right of way. Members are usually notified by mail of work being done in your area, but someone may talk to you in person or leave a door hanger. This gives you the opportunity to contact us before work begins. For more information, contact our Member Services Department.

Right-Of-Way Clearing Notice

What kind of equipment does HEA use to clear?

You will see us clearing with machines, as well as hand clearing. The mechanical clearing is done with a brush mower and a Sky Trim. The mowers cut and mulch the brush. The Sky Trim, which has a 75-foot boom with a rotating saw blade, cut tree branches growing towards the power lines. Care should be taken to stay well away from the machines (300 feet is the recommendation), as they can throw pieces of wood or other debris that could cause injury.

Hand crews clear where the mower can’t go, due to restrictive terrain, lawns, or close proximity to buildings. Hand crews cut and stack brush along the edge of the right of way, trimmed tree branches that the Sky Trim cannot reach, and remove hazard trees system-wide.

Will you clear around my electrical service drop?

Service drops are the lines that connect your house or business to HEA’s high-voltage lines. HEA owns up to the meter, the homeowner does not own the service drop. Note that small twigs and leaves brushing against the line should not cause any problems with your electric service.

HEA will evaluate trees threatening a service drop, but we are not obligated to cut them. If you have trees you wish to remove that are not classified as hazard trees, HEA recommends hiring a tree contractor.

Defend Your Home Against Forest Fires

Find General Information and Resources on trees, planting, and care by reviewing the following links: