A powerline safety guide for hunters & outdoor people
VELCO’s high-voltage lines run through Vermont’s farms, forests and fields. Our power lines are built to standards that protect line workers and the public. Still, when you walk, hunt or bike near transmission lines, you must play your part to be safe. Simple precautions will prevent serious injury and property damage.
Because game and other wildlife use our rights-of-way, we know sportsman and other outdoor enthusiasts want to use them too. Here are safety hazards and other things you need to know before entering a transmission line corridor.
VELCO is a good steward of the land VELCO manages over 13,000 acres of Vermont rights-of-way. Our primary focus is to ensure electrical reliability and safety, but we must manage these areas in an environmentally sound manner. VELCO manages its rights-of-way with techniques, endorsed by biologists and wildlife organizations, that create good habitat for quail, turkey, songbirds, pollinating insects and much more. We do this by planning small trees and shrubs such as crab apples and hawthorns on the corridor to provide food sources for wildlife.
Guns & power lines
Shooting at transmission facilities—wires, poles, and insulators—is dangerous to you, jeopardizes everyone’s power, and is a federal crime. A gunshot can make electricity arc to the ground or cause the wire to fall, with a high risk of serious injury or death. Never attempt to shoot through the wires or at anything that may be on the wires or poles.
Responsible, ethical and safe hunters will always consider the environment where they are hunting. Make sure of your target, and what is in front and beyond it. If your target is “sky lined” on a hill or power line and you cannot see what lies beyond, do not take the shot.
- DO NOT fly kites or model airplanes near the power lines.
- DO NOT climb or attach anything to transmission poles, including deer stands, climbing steps or blinds.
- DO contact VELCO before building any structure in the right-of-way as it may risk electric reliability and safety.
- DO report anything unusual you observe to help us keep our lines safe and service reliable.
Shock & smoke hazards
- Shocks—about as intense as touching the spark-plug wires of your lawnmower or car—can come from the power lines to nearby metallic objects, like vehicles, fences, metal buildings or roofs. You can avoid shocks by grounding the metallic objects.
- Refueling vehicles is not allowed on rights-of-way because there is a chance that a spark from an induced voltage could ignite the fuel.
- Fires are not allowed under a power line. Smoke and hot gases from a large fire can create a path for electricity to arc from the wire endangering nearby people and objects.
Land ownership & access
VELCO usually owns an easement under its power lines and for its access roads, rather than owning the land itself. The easements allow us to build and maintain the power line. Where we don’t own the land, we can’t give permission to trespass on the right-of-way. We encourage hunters to respect landowner rights and to seek permission before entering the corridor. Visit Vermont Fish & Wildlife to learn more about seeking landowner permission for access and Vermont All-Terrain Sportsman's Association or Vermont Association of Snow Travellers to learn more about all-terrain vehicle trails.
Downed & damaged powerlines
If you encounter a downed power line, stay at least 40 feet away and leave the area. Immediately call 911 and your local utility. Do not go back for any reason until the utility company has safely disconnected and de-energized the line.
If you have accidently damaged any part of a transmission facility—wires, poles, and insulators—please call VELCO immediately so we can inspect and repair the damage. For more information on power line safety, or to report anything unusual or suspicious, please contact VELCO at 802.770.6261.