Clearing The Way for Reliability

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Keeping the lights on in your home takes more than a lineman; It takes a crew to clear the lines and ensure the power can make its way safely to your home. The right-of-way department is essential to the cooperative and the services we provide to our members. 

Clearing trees could be inconvenient for our members. However, the work that we do to keep the lines clear of vegetation is vital to ensure safe and reliable power to members. 

“Nearly 15 percent of our outages involve trees,” said Randy Wager, right-of-way superintendent. “It is in all of our best interest to reduce that number.” 

FreeState employs in-house tree crews dedicated to right-of-way clearing. Right-of-Way crews were established with members in mind as trees can play a frustrating role in the reliability of power and functionality of power lines. The crews not only work on vegetation management across our territories but also during outages when tree damage needs to be cleared to make necessary repairs to damaged infrastructure. 

FreeState’s right-of-way department personnel start with a four-year apprenticeship to becoming a tree-trimmer. Over those four years, tree trimmers can work their way up in their careers. If you or someone you know is interested in our apprenticeship program, please head to our careers page on our website 

Tree Crew priorities: 

  • Outages

Assisting linemen by clearing areas where trees or tree damage hinder infrastructure. Due to safety reasons, these jobs are always done as safely and as quickly as possible. 

  • Rebuilds

The tree crew clears areas for linemen to make updates to the infrastructure without any obstacle. 

  • Trouble Spots

These are areas that experience frequent outages. The tree crew and operations crew work together to identify these areas and address them as soon as possible. 

  • Member requests

The cooperative appreciates member requests and reports to help reduce damages and maintain safety and reliability. Member requests are prioritized by the level of danger posed to members, member property or FreeState infrastructure. Therefore, the timeline of a job varies depending on the circumstances.  

Why clearing is necessary:

Trees make our communities and neighborhoods beautiful, but power lines and tree limbs are not a good combination. FreeState’s distribution lines must be clear to protect the safety of crews and members and ensure reliable power. If you need vegetation management, do not attempt to clear the vegetation on your own. It is best to contact FreeState to report the problem so we can send a crew out to complete the job safely and efficiently.  

Pruning Practices: 

Tree crews prune trees according to industry standards to achieve aesthetic value, as well as prolonged clearance. We look specifically for trees that could interfere with infrastructure like lines, conductors and substations. In most cases, vegetation that is removed will be ground up on site or chipped. Wood is usually left where the tree was removed. 

When pruning or clearing the cooperative abides to the following procedures: 

  • Mark trees with a red ribbon to indicate removal 
  • Remove trees rather than just trimming to the point they appear to be “butchered”.
  • Work with members on trees they would like to keep. We want to keep lines clear but also be considerate of the member’s requests and property.
  • Prune to keep tree health in mind. 
  • Help members choose appropriate trees to plant in the right location. 
  • Trim trees up to the meter.
  • Leave the member’s property as clean as possible. 


We work with members as much as we can when it comes to planning tree maintenance. However, it is important and helpful that the cooperative has your updated contact information. The tree crew can be called to clear the right-of-way after an outage, but the crew is dedicated full-time to the system. This means a lot of jobs are done to take precautionary and proactive measures. 

Each person in our right-of-way department works diligently to keep the lights on and provide reliable service to your home, no matter what. Here at FreeState, we aren’t just member owned, we’re member driven. If you have any questions or need your trees trimmed or treated, don’t hesitate to call our offices: 800-794-1989