When a tree grows into a power line, one of two scenarios may occur. First, a broken branch could fall onto the line, breaking the electrical wire. This could cause a power outage, sometimes to a wide geographical area and affecting a large number of people. The broken wire (which could still be "live") could dangle from the utility line, causing a potential hazard to those in the area. If someone touches the line, or even touches the ground around the line, they could be killed instantly or at least severely injured.
Another potential injury could occur if someone tries climbing a tree extending into a power line. The weight of their body may cause a limb to touch the electrical wires, sending electricity from the wire, through the branch, and into the person. The person could be severely injured by the shock, knocked from the tree causing further injury, or killed instantly.
While outages are inconvenient and costly to the Cooperative and its Members, it is the personal injuries that Cooperative officials worry about the most.
To help alleviate these scenarios, the cooperative has implemented a comprehensive tree trimming or right-of-way program.
When possible, branches and limbs are just cut back from the lines, but when offending trees are located within 20 feet on either side of the utility line, Farmers’ prefers to remove the tree to eliminate the hazard completely. The graphic (provided by the National Arbor Day Foundation) illustrated the appropriate right-of-way for utility lines.