Trees and Power Lines

At LG&E and KU, we strive to provide you with safe, reliable service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. One of the most common – and critical – ways we do that is by clearing trees and other vegetation that has grown too close to overhead power lines. This is referred to as right-of-way clearing or vegetation management.

A large number of the service interruptions that occur on our system are caused by trees, tree limbs or other vegetation that grew too close to overhead power lines.

Clearing trees, limbs and brush away from overhead power lines:

  • helps create a safer environment for everyone
  • maintains the reliable electric service you expect and deserve
  • allows our crews to detect and repair issues that impact service
  • We conduct right-of-way clearing throughout our service area on a consistent and planned cycle.

Vegetation management is critical to electric reliability

Vegetation management is critical to electric reliability for the customers served by LG&E and KU who depend on having reliable power for their homes and businesses. Effective vegetation management is critical to maintaining that reliability. LG&E and KU operate thousands of miles of high-voltage transmission and distribution lines. Our vegetation management program is designed to promote the safe and reliable operation of the electric grid while ensuring that we are sensitive to the concerns of property owners and our obligations to electric customers.

Lineman climbing tree
Powerlines in a field of flowers

Transmission power line clearance

LG&E and KU trim and clear transmission line rights of way in a much more comprehensive way than in the past.

distribution pole and lines at sunset

Electric distribution power line clearance

When trees are planted too close to distribution poles and lines and their surroundings or are not properly maintained, they can create serious issues that grow worse each year. They can cause property damage, create safety hazards, and disrupt our utility service.

grove of American hazelnut trees

Before you plant near distribution power lines

Planning ahead is important when you are thinking about planting a new tree. People often plant trees without thinking about how large they will grow once they mature.

bucket truck next to a downed tree

Trees are the #1 cause of storm-related power outages and must be kept away from power lines

If trees get too close to power lines, the result can be wide-reaching power outages. There is also the potential of a serious safety risk to you and our employees. We have an obligation to keep the grid safe and reliable, and oversight is provided at both the state and federal levels. Events like the Northeast Blackout of 2003, the Kentucky ice storm of 2009 and the 2023 wind storm involved prolonged outages caused by trees. Our vegetation management program aims to limit the effects trees have on the grid and the communities it serves.

Common questions

What is a transmission line?

Transmission lines are the high-voltage power lines that run between large towers and poles.  Unlike distribution lines that feed our homes, these lines carry power to communities and even other states.

What is a right-of-way (ROW)?

A right-of-way is the actual land area acquired from a property owner for a specific purpose, such as a transmission line or roadway.

What is an easement?

Easements are agreements between the company and private property owners about their rights and responsibilities within a right-of-way. The easement on your property gives LG&E and KU the right to build, operate and maintain the transmission lines, which includes managing vegetation and removing trees. While many easements were negotiated by previous property owners, the terms of the agreement remain in place even if the property is transferred or sold.

How wide are the company’s transmission line rights-of-way?

It varies. The company’s transmission lines are generally between 100 and 200 feet in width; however, in some cases, the right-of-way may be as much as 350 feet with the overhead transmission line usually being constructed in the center of the right-of-way.

What type of equipment does LG&E and KU use to perform right-of-way clearance?

LG&E and KU crews will use chainsaws, mowers, chippers and bucket trucks or tree climbers to perform this work. Herbicide may also be used to prevent the growth of low-growing plants and other vegetation around trees that remain in the area.

What if a tree needs to be removed?

We understand how important trees and natural landscape are to our customers, the community and the environment. They're important to us, too. When a tree needs to be removed, more often than not it’s for safety reasons. In every situation, we work to balance aesthetic concerns with our responsibility to provide safe, reliable electricity.

My electric service is underground? Why am I being notified?

Even if your electric service is underground, it eventually connects to overhead lines that serve your area which could be impacted by tree growth. We want you to be aware of the work we are doing and make sure you know we are in your area doing this work. We encourage you to be mindful of our crews' presence as you travel through the area.

What part of my electric service overhead am I responsible for?