Horry Electric takes right-of-way clearance around electrical equipment very seriously. Whether it is located overhead, underground or attached to your home or business, the electrical equipment needs its space to do its job.
Trees and overhead power lines just don’t mix. Lightning, high winds, ice, heavy rains or even extremely dry weather can send a tree to the ground and its limbs into a power line. The result is a power outage. Crews have to be dispatched, electrical equipment has to be replaced and members are without power until the work can be safely completed.
“We have a tree trimming program in place to help reduce the potential for outages related to trees and limbs, but keeping up with tree growth in Horry County is a challenge,” says Reed Cooper, manager of engineering for Horry Electric. “If members are considering planting trees near our overhead equipment, we encourage them to learn all they can about choosing the right tree for the right place,” he continues, adding that the South Carolina Forestry Commission is an excellent source for information.
“If you have one of our underground transformers on your property, the clearance boundaries for planting and landscaping are equally important,” says Cooper. “They aren’t pretty, but they are a very important component in the delivery of electric service to homes and businesses on our system.”
“It’s only natural that someone would want to landscape around them so the equipment isn’t noticeable, but the right-of-way clearance boundaries established and posted on the stickers on the transformers themselves need to be respected and maintained for your safety and the safety of our crews,” says Cooper, adding that, in recent years, the cooperative has stepped up efforts to educate members on electrical equipment and landscaping. “We even feature a physical display of an actual transformer, complete with landscaping at our Annual Meeting.”
Education is ongoing
In addition to the display at Annual Meeting, Horry Electric includes basic information about landscaping around electrical equipment on horryelectric.com. “We also periodically publish information in South Carolina Living magazine, our membership manual, safety brochures and on the stickers placed on the majority of our equipment,” says Kevin Jordan, distribution engineer for Horry Electric. “When it comes to our electrical equipment, the best advice we can give is to keep your distance and we try to get that word out in different ways, especially when it comes to underground electric transformers.”
A flyer, simply titled ‘Keep Your Distance’, was created by the cooperative to help communicate that message a few years ago. “This equipment is necessary for the safe and reliable delivery of electric service to the families and businesses in our area,” says Jordan. “They’re connected to underground power lines and we have to have clear access 24-hours a day, so they should never be enclosed with fencing, shrubs or anything else with less than a 10-foot-wide gate or opening.”
Other things to remember are to never allow children to play near transformers, never pour waste oils, chemicals or other liquids on or near transformers and always pay attention to the important safety stickers on electrical equipment.
“If members need advice on how to safely beautify the area around the transformer, please call Buddy Parker, our right-of-way coördinator at 843.369.2211,” says Jordan. “If you come to the Annual Meeting on April 12, you’ll get to meet him in person at the underground landscaping display in the exhibit area.”