Compatible Plants Mean Safer Power

Trees and electricity just don't mix.

Trees and power lines can sway when subjected to high winds. And in hot weather when carrying heavy loads or in cold weather when covered with ice, transmission lines can sag as much as 25 feet below their normal operating height.

Sags and sways can lead to unanticipated proximity to trees and other plants that might seem to be well out of the way. All it takes is a brief instant when a tree and a line get an inch too close. A flash-over results and an outage ensues.

Tall trees and thick or woody shrubs in transmission rights of way:

  • Increase the chance of outages
  • Slow down repairs
  • Increase maintenance costs
  • Increase safety risk

We're often asked why we remove problem trees instead of trimming them. Here’s why:

  • Trimming is more costly, more dangerous and more time-consuming than removal.
  • It has to be done repeatedly. 
  • It can encourage more rapid re-growth.
  • And it’s not always healthy for the trees.

Remember, too, that TVA has thousands of miles of right of way to maintain, and some fast-growing trees can outpace our ability to keep up with them.

Even with the latest technology, there aren’t enough hours in the day or enough people and equipment to continually monitor and repeatedly trim all 260,000 acres of TVA right of way every season.

Make the Best Choices

But low-growing trees, shrubs and other plants can be compatible with TVA right of way easements provided that you know where to plant them. That’s why TVA is here to help you make good choices. We have prepared a list of suggested trees and shrubs that are compatible with transmission rights of way.

Just remember that even if a particular tree or shrub is on the list, it might still be a problem if you plant it in the wrong place. Also, avoid woody plants that, while low-growing, can impede access for maintenance and slow down repairs.

That's why it's a good idea to always call your TVA Transmission Right of Way team before planting anything in a transmission right of way or any time you have questions about what's appropriate for your transmission easement. They can help you make good choices that will enhance the beauty of your property without endangering the reliable power you and others depend on.