Few elements are as vital to the smooth operation of our modern society as electricity. Yet, behind the scenes of our daily lives lies a delicate balance between nature and infrastructure. Meeker Cooperative understands this delicate balance all too well, which is why we tirelessly work on a proactive vegetation management program, one of the many ways we ensure reliable power for our members.


To understand why we do what we do, you first need to understand what it is we are talking about. A power line right-of-way is a strip of land that an electric utility uses to construct, maintain, repair, or replace overhead and underground power lines. The right-of-way provides clearance from trees and other things that could interfere with line installation, maintenance, and operation.

At Meeker Cooperative, our right-of-way (ROW) policy emphasizes clearances tailored to different scenarios:

For three-phase lines: 20 feet

For single-phase lines in road right-of-way: 15 feet

For single-phase lines in yards: 10 feet (road to pole in the yard)

For secondary wires: 5 feet (pole to house)

There are three main reasons to maintain a right-of-way: safety, reliability, and affordability.


Your safety is a top priority for Meeker Cooperative. A tree that is growing too close to a power line creates a hazard. Danger increases when trees and power lines make contact, but the tree does not even need to be touching the line to cause deadly results. Electricity can jump, or arc, from the power line to a nearby conductor, such as a tree.

Additionally, clear right-of-way ensures safe access to electric lines for our crews completing maintenance and outage response work.


Do you know that your chances of receiving uninterrupted service through a storm are greatly increased if your electric cooperative maintains a clear right-of-way? Contrary to what many people believe, lightning rarely causes power outages. It’s wind and ice build-up that causes trees and limbs to fall on power lines. An effective right-of-way maintenance program keeps many of the potential problems away from power lines and improves reliability for you and your neighbors down the line. A tree growing too close to your neighbors’ power lines can knock out power for hundreds of others - including you.


An electric cooperative is a not-for-profit business, which means we provide a service and cover costs. When trees grow too close to power lines, the potential for costly repairs grows. Suddenly, minor restoration efforts could become major restoration efforts. As these costs increase, so do your electric rates. An effective right-of-way program can help with electric rates.


In 2024 our focus remains unwavering: reducing outages and upholding the reliability of our electrical grid.

“Through meticulous planning and strategic execution, we’ve streamlined our operations to seamlessly integrate technology and data analysis into every aspect of our vegetation management program. With cutting-edge mapping software, our contractors efficiently track tree cutting, ensuring a proactive approach to maintaining clearances and safeguarding our infrastructure,” shared Dan Schrupp, Meeker Cooperative’s Electric Operations Manager.

Meeker Cooperative employs various methods for vegetation management, including trimming with bucket trucks and side trimmers, mowing with forestry mowers, and spraying with herbicides. “By trimming with precision and employing responsible herbicide spraying techniques, we strike the delicate balance between preserving our natural surroundings and ensuring the smooth flow of electricity to our members,” Schrupp said.

Collaboration is key to our success. Partnering with local contractors like Tree Story and ROW Spraying, we’ve built a network of dedicated professionals to maintain clear right-of-way. Through annual assessments and physical inspections, we measure the effectiveness of our vegetation management program, ensuring that every tree cleared contributes to the reliability of our electrical grid.

Each year it is our goal to complete one-fifth of our system, in 2023 we covered nine townships in the southwest part of our service area. But challenges lie ahead. The persistent drought and the threat of Dutch Elm disease remind us of the fragility of nature and the importance of our ongoing efforts to mitigate these risks. “This year, our sights are set on ten townships in the northwest and northern parts of our service territory,” Schrupp noted.

tree trimming map


We realize that cutting and trimming trees on your property is not always ideal. The Cooperative works closely with members to only remove and trim what is needed for the safety of the public and our line workers, and to maintain the reliability of our distribution system.

One way you can help is by not planting trees within at least 25 feet of power lines. If you plant a medium-sized or larger tree, plant it at least 40 feet away from power lines. 

For more information on the vegetation management program, please contact us at 320-693-3231.

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