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Garkane’s vegetation management program

Recently, there were comments made on social media regarding Garkane’s vegetation management program. We know one of the best things about living in southern Utah is the natural beauty that surrounds us. We are fortunate to have a lot of trees that offer beauty, shade and a habitat for all sorts of birds and other wildlife. We know that our members appreciate our community for many of these reasons.

Garkane crews work on a line near Mt. Carmel Junction. Photo courtesy of Garkane Energy.

At Garkane Energy Cooperative, we strive to balance maintaining beautiful surroundings and ensuring a reliable power supply by keeping our power lines clear of obstructions in our right-of-way (ROW).

A ROW is the corridor we use to construct, maintain, replace or repair underground and overhead power lines. ROW enables the co-op to provide clearance from trees and other obstructions that could hinder power line installation, maintenance or operation. The overall goal of our vegetation management program within a ROW is to provide reliable power to our members while maintaining the beauty of our community. While we recognize and appreciate the beauty of trees, proactive vegetation management benefits co-op members in three tangible ways.

Safety: First and foremost, we care about our members and put their safety and that of our line workers above all else. Overgrown vegetation and trees in our ROW presents a risk to power line safety. For example, if trees are touching power lines in our members’ yards, they can pose grave danger to families. If children can access those trees, they can potentially climb into a danger zone. Electricity can arc, or jump, from a power line to a nearby conductor like a tree. A proactive approach to remove limbs or entire trees diminishes the chances of fallen branches or trees during severe weather events that make it more complicated and dangerous for line workers to restore power.

Reliability: Of course, reliability is one of the biggest benefits of a smart vegetation management program. Strategic tree trimming reduces the frequency of downed lines causing power outages. Generally speaking, healthy trees don’t fall on power lines, and clear lines don’t cause problems. Proactive trimming and pruning keeps lines clear which in turn, promotes greater reliability.

Affordability: As you know, Garkane is a not-for-profit cooperative, which means we strive to keep our costs in check in order to keep our rates affordable. Affordability is increased when we keep our lines clear of trees, branches and limbs. If trees grow too close to power lines, the potential for expensive repairs increases. Effective tree trimming and vegetation management keeps costs down for everyone. In some instances, where trees are directly under our conductors, it makes financial sense to remove the tree, rather than trim it each year. Garkane’s service territory covers 16,000 square miles, so our vegetation management program represents a major expense for the cooperative and we strive limit these costs when we can.

We received authorization from local towns to remove trees in their ROW which have overgrown and encroached into Garkane’s ROW. We have been removing these trees when possible. This is an example of when removing trees makes the most sense from a reliable, affordable and safety standpoint. Garkane tries hard to work with our member customers on an individual basis when we can. On an emotional basis, we understand the great value trees have for our individual members and families.

Our communities are special. We appreciate trees, but we also know our members depend on us to provide reliable electric service. Using good vegetation management, Garkane can keep the power lines clear, prepare for future weather events and secure the reliability of the grid.




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