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at the website of the Bruderheim REA since March 27, 2002

Power-Line Work: Main Page
Brushing and tree-trimming
Pole-testing and Pole-changes
Modifying guy-wires

Excerpt from Safety Codes: Tree-Trimming


Line Work — Brushing and tree-trimming in farm yards and for individual rural services

2004 09 01


Brushing and tree-trimming in farm yards and for individual rural services

A common reaction by people that have become attached to their trees in their farm yards is to say to the tree trimmers: "I don't want you to cut those trees back.  The trees were here long before the power line got installed."  The hard and cold reality is that laws have been issued along with all the rules and regulations that govern the provisioning of electrical services to farms and rural residences.

According to the laws governing right-of-ways for power lines, the right-of-way extends 20 feet horizontally to either side of a power line.  Within that space no trees are permitted to grow, and there are not permitted to be any structures.  Some exceptions have been made by some REAs in specific circumstances, but in some cases those exceptions caused serious problems. 

Where safety standards are not being adhered to, and where an accident happens on account of that, a given REA may become liable to pay damages.  Lawyers being what they are have driven the compensatory awards to the survivors of victims of such accidents into the millions of dollars.  The Bruderheim REA simply can't afford a single claim like that.  Moreover, who would want to serve on the board of directors if there is the risk that anyone doing so can become personally and even criminally liable?

The tree shown in the picture with the granaries in the background has been trimmed.  It was trimmed the last time around.  At that time it got trimmed back to the permitted minimum specifications.  This time around, the owners did not permit the tree trimmers to do even that.  Before the willow tree got trimmed back this time, the spruce tree that is visible and will soon become a hazard, too, was not visible from the road.

The transformer pole needs to be replaced.  It would be a good time to relocate the pole at no extra cost to the centre of the turn-around of that portion of the yard.  That would provide a far safer arrangement, but the owners are not interested.

On the next page will be a quote from the Alberta Electrical Utilities and Communication Utility Code.  Note that the Code stresses certain limits pertaining to what a tree must conform to if it stands next to a power line and is big enough to support a person .

I mentioned the safety issue to the owner and asked whether he had any children that were likely to climb the tree.  He answered in the negative, and of course, I was just being facetious.  He is a bit too old to have children young enough to want to climb that tree.  However, right under the tree are lawn chairs, probably to permit the grandparents to watch their grandchildren when they play in the sandbox next to the tree trunk.  Let's hope that the grandparents will always watch closely enough, so that when their grandchildren are of a mind to climb that tree they won't.  That tree is a killer in waiting.

To protect itself from becoming liable fordamages, the Bruderheim REA board of directors will have to ask the owners of that yard to sign a release.  If that release is not signed, the Bruderheim REA will have to have the power to that yard cut off.  Fortis, of course, will have to pursue a similar course of action.  Fortis has no choice.  The safety standards in existence permit no other choice.

In the meantime, if a catastrophic failure of the tap leading into that yard should happen, power will not be interrupted for all of the REA members on the main line feeding that yard.  The arrangement on the tap coming off the main line (shown in the photo at right) will isolate the yard.  If the fusible link should fail, power to the yard will not be restored until all trees growing or threatening to grow into the tap have been trimmed back to specifications.

For now nothing can be done about the line noise and its consequences that the other REA members on that circuit will become subjected to whenever any of the trees in that yard touch the tap line.

We should all be able to get along, but safety comes first; and there are laws governing safety and quality of electrical services.  Those laws shall not be circumvented, unless the owner of the property being exposed to serious risk assumes full responsibility for refusing to comply with them.

Posted 2004 09 01