Permitted & Non-Permitted Uses of Transmission Rights-of-Way
As the owner and operator of Vermont’s transmission grid, VELCO has managed the safe, reliable and economical delivery of power for over half a century. This job requires us to keep our rights-of-way free of obstructions for public and employee safety, and electrical system reliability. Inspecting and protecting these rights-of-way is a critical part of what we do.
Electric transmission rights-of-way
A right-of-way is the corridor of land that VELCO uses to access, construct, operate, and maintain electric facilities. Transmission rights-of-way typically contain wood or metal poles or structures carrying high-voltage electric and communications lines. The majority of the rights-of-way used by VELCO were established through the purchase of perpetual easements from owners of the property decades ago. At the time the easements were acquired, the land owners received compensation for the land crossed by the right-of-way, and granted VELCO, or its predecessors, permanent easement rights that remain intact even upon a sale of the underlying land. Where an easement exists, anyone who purchases the land remains subject to the terms of VELCO’s permanent easement rights.
Potential land owners can learn of utility-owned right-of-way easements through a title search, since the easement documents are filed in the land records of each town. Some easements date back as many as 100 years.
While VELCO has the right to operate and maintain the electric transmission system through these easements, the underlying property is still owned by private parties whose rights to use the property continue, although subject to the easement rights of record.
Uses that affect access or safety in rights-of-way are not permitted
VELCO adheres to strict National Electric Safety Code (NESC) standards that mandate adequate distances, or clearances, from energized lines to prevent contact accidents and to ensure electric system reliability. Our easement rights acquired over private and public properties generally prohibit the placement of structures, restrict certain uses, and require the management of vegetation, within, overhanging, and outside the easement area.
While not routine, VELCO will consider requests to use rights-of-way, but only for uses that will not pose a safety risk, or obstruct maintaining the line. Non-permitted uses can create hazards that may not be apparent, but which could result in power outages or electrocution. Examples of non-permitted uses in the easement area include, but are not limited to, buildings, swimming pools, incompatible landscape plantings, signs, grade changes, solar panels, recreational equipment, and fences or walls that might unreasonably interfere with the easement rights.
Permitted use review process
VELCO has developed guidelines for conditional uses of our transmission corridors that may be considered and approved by VELCO engineers and managers. The first step is to contact a VELCO Real Estate & Right-of-Way representative and discuss preliminary plans. Reach us by calling 802.772.3769 or by using our online contact form.
After the initial consultation, the landowner will be required to submit a formal request as outlined in VELCO’s Electric Transmission Right-of-Way Usage Policy and Right-of-Way Application.
During our review, VELCO may request revisions to the application and additional documentation. Based on the review, we will determine whether or not to permit the requested use, any terms and conditions if the use is permitted, and the reasons, if the request is denied.