Reliability & Trees

Reliability & Trees

Your family needs a dependable source of power,
so at HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative,
safe and reliable electric service is our top priority.

While we’ve always invested in maintaining our electric distribution system, in the past several years we've been working on our long-range plan to improve reliability by upgrading our entire system and reclaiming rights-of-way along existing lines.

This is a long-term project, as our system includes over 2,900 miles of overhead lines across mainly rural and recreational areas with lots of trees.

Upgrading Our System

We use several different means to identify power line circuits with more occurrences of outages and blinks, and prioritize upgrading them in each year’s work plan. Many of you have told us you can see a difference already.

Reclaiming Rights-of-Way

  • Trees and branches touching power lines are the biggest cause of outages and blinking lights. Tree and brush management along power line rights-of-way is essential to providing safe and reliable electric service. The cooperative maintains over 2,900 miles of overhead lines in 13 counties and 96 townships.
  • In the past five years, we have invested well over $3 million to clear over 1,500 miles of line.
  • Our plan is to continue clearing our lines on a seven-year cycle, conditions permitting.

Other Preventive Measures

We have other tools to test and inspect our system for potential problems, and correct them before they lead to outages and blinks. Additional fuses and other power line protection devices help limit the number of members affected by any outage.

Tree Removal Practices

Our ability to provide reliable electric service is vital to us, along with the safety of our employees and members. In order to achieve both goals, we maintain our equipment and power line rights-of-way through a variety of tree removal practices. (see photos)

Routine right-of-way clearing activities are completed on a regular cycle of approximately every 7 years. Tree cutting or removal outside of this regularly scheduled maintenance is limited to emergencies only, or to correct a hazardous situation.

Cleared right-of-way 1

Cleared right-of-way 2

Cleared right-of-way 3

Cleared right-of-way 4

How Much Will Be Removed?

The amount of space required for overhead electric line clearance is determined by the USDA Rural Utilities Service, based on the line’s voltage. In other words, a high-voltage transmission line can require a 100-foot right-of-way, while HomeWorks Tri-County’s 7,200 volt distribution lines require a 30-foot right-of-way. The service wire from our transformer to your home requires even less clearance.

In developed areas, a low-growing tree species can sometimes be cut back instead of removed. Our crews may use directional cutting methods to remove the branches growing within a certain distance of overhead lines. This allows the tree to re-grow more normally, and in the long run will help prevent pest problems and decay.

Other times it’s better to remove a tree than to prune it drastically. Not all trees are candidates for directional cutting and may require removal below the lines. Our professionally trained contractors evaluate each tree individually.

Our practice in undeveloped areas and deep right of way, away from roads and easy access to the power lines, is to remove trees completely.

Please do not attempt to cut a tree yourself if it’s under or near an overhead line.

What About Debris Removal?

During normal circuit work in developed areas – Our crews remove smaller branches and brush with a chipper. Larger limbs are cut into manageable sections and left for the member.

During normal circuit work in undeveloped areas – Right of ways are cut, mowed or wind-rowed. Larger limbs and branches are left for member disposal.

Storm-caused debris – We are not responsible for storm-damaged trees and debris. We clear hazards away from our lines to restore power, and members are responsible for clean up.

proper tree planting distances by type of treeProper Planting

You can help prevent your trees from being cut in the future by taking into consideration the location of each tree and how large it will grow. Certain species grow too large to be planted under overhead lines, which may result in removal by our contracted tree crews.

Plant only small trees, with a mature height of 25 feet or less, in areas within 20 feet of overhead power lines. Trees that have a mature height of 40 feet or less should be planted closer to 50 feet from power lines. Tall-growing trees (with a mature height of 40 feet or more) should be planted well away from the lines. For more information on proper planting, visit the National Arbor Day Foundation.

Call Before You Dig

Before you dig, always call 811 at least three business days before the planned work to protect yourself from harm and unnecessary expense. Utility personnel will come to your property and place flags in the ground in locations where underground wires and other utilities, such as cable, telephone, or gas lines, run. Be safe and always call before you dig. There is no charge for this service.

Tree removal schedule

Right-of-way re-clearing along HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative power lines is scheduled this year in the counties and townships listed below.

Workers will attempt to get as many lines cleared as time permits. Other areas, where tree growth presents a problem, may be added to this list.

We will notify members if tree clearing is happening in their area by means of a postcard or phone message notification, approximately one week before the work begins.

2018 Right-of-Way Clearing Schedule, by Township

County Trimming & Clearing Herbicide Treatment



Eaton, Eaton Rapids, Hamlin


Berlin, Campbell, North Plains, Odessa

Isabella Coldwater, Sherman



Austin, Fork, Morton, Sheridan, Wheatland

Chippewa, Colfax, Fork, Grant, Green, Martiny
Montcalm Bloomer

Crystal, Day, Douglas, Evergreen, Ferris, Pine

Osceola   Hersey


Together We Save