TVA: Trimming Trees A Necessary Part Of The Job

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(WHNT) - Thursday, the Tennessee Valley Authority invited us up to learn more about their constant work to ensure a steady supply of power to their nine million customers.

We took a helicopter ride to learn about the importance of maintaining vegetation along transmission lines.

TVA works with about 50,000 landowners each year to ensure a continuous flow of electricity to homes and businesses across the Tennessee Valley.  That means making sure trees and brush are a safe distance from power lines.

"It's the type of maintenance that if you don't do it, if you slow up, vegetation doesn't wait on us," said Jason Regg, TVA's Vegetation Maintenance Manager. "Vegetation continues to grow and that will be a higher risk and higher cost associated with it."

TVA maintains its miles and miles of transmission line right-of-ways through aerial surveillance and foot patrol.  Crews must ensure mature trees in the wire zone don't reach a height of more than 15 feet.  They do this through trimming, mowing and applying environmentally approved herbicides.

Sometimes, this means informing property owners their trees simply have to go. 

The consequences for falling behind can be much worse than a simple outage.  Interruption caused by trees can result in hefty fines.

"Interruption to our transmission system can affect a large number of people and industries and hospitals and such," said Regg.

So if TVA shows up and says your apple orchard has to go, trust it's in the interest of keeping us all plugged in and safe.

TVA seeks property owner consent at least two weeks before removing vegetation. The maintenance can cost $20 to $25 million a year.