Right-of-Way FAQ

Will you clear around my electrical service drop?

Service drops are the lines that connect your house or business to GVEA’s high-voltage lines. Since the service drop is owned by the homeowner, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to maintain it. The service drop should be kept clear of trees and brush. Note that small twigs and leaves brushing against the line should not cause any problems with your electric service.

Golden Valley Electric may evaluate hazard 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, GVEA recommends hiring a contractor.

GVEA can also disconnect your service for you in some instances to make the felling of the trees easier and reconnect service when the work is complete. There is no charge for this service during business hours, but please try to provide at least 5 days' notice.

Note: It’s the member’s responsibility to maintain a 4-foot-wide (ground-to-sky) path from their meter to the next pole.

If you would like to report a suspected hazard tree or schedule a temporary disconnect, call our operations department at (907) 451-5692.

What kind of equipment does GVEA use to clear?

You will see us clearing with machines, as well as hand clearing. Mechanical clearing is done with a Kershaw brush mower, BobCat forestry 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, cuts tree beanches 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.

Our hands cres clear where the Kershaw 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, trim the tree branches that the Kershaw Sky Trim cannot reach, and remove hazard trees system-wide.

How are members notified of GVEA’s ROW clearing plans?

Golden Valley Electric attempts to notify residents well in advance. Members in areas where power lines will be cleared should receive a postcard notification. 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, call our Right-of-Way Maintenance Department at (907) 458-5717.

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

GVEA has certified tree-risk assessors who can evaluate hazardous trees to determine if there’s potential danger. If it is determined that a tree poses an unacceptable risk to our equipment, we may remove it.

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 contractor.

To report a tree you suspect may be a hazard tree, phone our operations office at (907) 451-5692.

Never attempt to trim or remove hazard trees yourself. The result could be damage to GVEA’s facilities and you will be held responsible for any repairs. Worse, you could be injured or killed. When in doubt, please call (907) 451-5692.

Never touch a tree in contact with a power line. Trees do conduct electricity and can cause serious injury or death.

For more information on hazard trees, visit our Hazard Trees page.

How much area will be cleared?

Most right-of-way easements are 30 feet wide. We normally cut all brush to the ground, so there is a ground-to-sky clearance.

Why does GVEA clear right-of-ways?

Golden Valley Electric Association (GVEA) maintains more than 3,000 miles of power lines. This is done seasonally, April through October, but power outages happen year-round. We clear for these three basic reasons:

  • A clear right of way enables our line crews to quickly access power lines, identify outage causes and make repairs – Maintaining cleared rights of way has helped shorten the length of outages considerably.
  • To prevent hazard trees from falling into the lines – Trees falling into power lines are one of the leading causes of power outages. As clearing progresses through our power grid, hazard trees are identified and removed.
  • To prevent trees from growing into the line – Trees growing into power lines become energized and are hazardous to people, pets and equipment. Also, electricity going into the ground costs us all money, similar to leaving your water running while no body is using it.