Rights of Way:

General Information

The Power Grid System and Rights of Way

Electricity is delivered to homes and businesses through a complex and carefully engineered network of transmission and distribution lines. Moon Lake Electric Association (MLEA) acquires easements to ensure that it has the legal right to maintain its power lines and the integrity of the sytem. The easement rights obtained are for the safety of the public, MLEA personnel, and protection of MLEA’s valuable facilities and equipment. If the easement rules are encroached upon, it could mean a violation of the National Safety Electric Code, which could pose severe, even life-threatening dangers to the public.

MLEA crews must be able to access facilities, including power poles, wires and transformers, at all times. The property owner assumes certain liability and financial consequences should MLEA have difficulty accessing its facilities and equipment.

MLEA Rights of Way

MLEA obtains easements from private property owners to ensure the safe and efficient operation, maintenance, and accessibility of power lines. These easements are officially recorded in county public records and are indicated on title reports. Even when a property is sold or purchased, the easements remain valid. Additionally, MLEA may have additional easement rights that are valid, despite not being explicitly stated on title reports.

One of the primary reasons for electrical service interruptions is trees. In most cases, MLEA easements explicitly state that the utility has the right to trim or remove trees that obstruct utility equipment and lines. To minimize the requirement for pruning or removal, it is essential to carefully select a tree that is suitable for the available space.

Before digging on their property or within an easement, property owners must first call a locating service to identify and mark any underground utility lines.

Safety Matters - The 10ft Circle of Safety

Keep everything - you, the tools, the materials you are handling and the equipment you are operative - at least 10 feet away from all power lines. This is referred to as the “10-Foot Circle of Safety.”

When working in proximity to power lines with a voltage of 50,000 volts or less, it is essential to maintain a minimum distance of ten feet. Not only is this an important safety rule, it is an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation, and it is a law. Those caught violating the Circle of Safety can be fined. If the voltage is higher than 50,000 volts, even greater distances from the wires is required for safety.

Please do not block easements

During outages and other emergencies, MLEA needs immediate access to safely and quickly restore power. That response is significantly hindered if fences, livestock or other equipment block access.

If crews do not have proper access to power lines, the risk of damage or removal of property may result. Property owners who violate easement agreements could be held liable for any property damage, fence replacement or any other damages that may result if MLEA needs to access its facilities. Not only does this pose a delay in restoring power, but crews must also take extra risks in removing these sometimes dangerous barriers.

Access for periodic and normal maintenance activities is also necessary to ensure power safety and reliability. Objects or buildings placed underneath or too close to power lines pose serious safety concerns and could be a violation of required clearances. Flammable items, such as hay bales, may catch fire. Long or tall items, such as irrigiation pipes may accidentally be raised into overhead lines when being moved, electrocuting the person holding them. An electricity arc can even occur by coming close to a line without even touching it. For more information on what items to avoid placing near powerlines, see the list on the next page.

Avoid Placing the Following Items Near or Beneath a Power Line:

  • Houses, garages, sheds or barns
  • Second-story decks
  • Play equipment or tree houses
  • Flagpoles
  • Recreational vehicles that block access
  • Hot tubs or pools
  • Fences that block access
  • Antennas or satellite dishes
  • Scaffolding or ladders
  • Pipes, containers, hay bales
  • Mechanical equipment
  • Flammable materials
  • Anything children or adults may climb

Differences Between Distribution and Transmission Lines

Distribution Line Transmission Line
Distinction Power is distributed from substation to customers Power is transmitted from generating stations to substations
Categorization By voltage rating By voltage rating
Easement Width 20 feet to 40 feet 50 feet to 150 feet
Identification White metal license plate tag on pole White metal license plate tag on pole

More Information

For a downloadable pamphlet version of the information in this page click the download link below.