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Working with electricity is a dangerous job. At Delaware Electric Cooperative, we are committed to safety — for our employees as well as our members — and we are calling on the people we power to help us keep this commitment. We’re asking members to look around the transformers (green boxes) in their yards to make sure plants and shrubs are not blocking access to the equipment. While we love to see our members’ creative landscaping designs, when these plants, trees and flowers impede our employees from doing their jobs of maintaining electrical equipment, they can pose a serious safety hazard.

According to operations supervisor— and the head of DEC’s vegetation management program — Brian Fooks, the Co-op’s guidelines around planting near electrical equipment are necessary to ensure lineworkers can do their jobs as safely as possible.

“In developments, our crews and contractors have to be able to inspect, maintain and troubleshoot our equipment, so we need it to be accessible at all times,” Fooks says. “First and foremost, it’s important because it helps maintain the safety of our lineworkers. They have to wear rubber gloves, rubber sleeves, and other personal protective equipment (PPE), and even a small pinhole can expose them to extreme voltages.”

When planting, DEC reminds members they must allow five feet of space on either side of any electrical equipment, five-feet of space behind it, and at least ten-feet of space at the equipment’s front or on any side with an access panel or door — this side should be recognizable by a safety decal and lock. Crews have the authority to remove vegetation that prevents them from getting the power back on or to perform maintenance work.  

If you have any questions about DEC’s vegetation regulations, please contact Brian Fooks at [email protected]. It is the goal of every employee at the Co-op to keep the lights on. With the help of our members, we can continue to do this with reliability — and above all — safety in mind.

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