Right-of-Way Usage Policy
General restrictions and conditions applicable to right-of-way (ROW) use include:
1. Safety, not only for VELCO workers, but also for the public, is of paramount concern to VELCO, therefore:
- Any unsafe activity or field condition observed by VELCO that is associated with an approved ROW use will be cause for VELCO to order immediate cessation of all work, and/or revocation of approval, until the safety breach is corrected to VELCO’s satisfaction.
- Construction equipment operators must remain constantly aware of the hazards associated with working under or near high voltage electric lines.
- Stockpiling of loam, gravel, stumps, rubble, snow, or any other material whatsoever, under or close to the electric lines, structures, and access roads is prohibited.
- Burning of any material within the right-of-way is prohibited.
2. Structures, above and below ground, including, but not limited to dwellings, decks, barns, storage buildings,foundations, swimming pools, landscaping berms, towers, flag poles, solar panels, and storage tanks are not permitted in VELCO rights-of-ways.
- Lighting structures within the right-of-way may not exceed 6 feet in total height above the existing ground level (including the base or pedestal height), and must have a grounded power source and a grounded exterior, if applicable.
- Flammable, hazardous, and explosive materials are not allowed within the right-of-way limits, regardless of the type of vessel used for containment.
3. Mobile homes and recreational type trailers are not allowed in the rights-of-way.
4. Fences may be approved subject to the following conditions:
- They shall not exceed 6 feet in height.
- They shall not be attached to or be located with a 20-foot radius of any electric line poles or towers.
- All metal fences must be grounded. Grounding shall be in accordance with all applicable rules and requirements contained in Section 9 of the National Electrical Safety Code.
5. Vehicle parking may be approved subject to the following conditions:
- Parking is restricted to no closer than a 20-foot radius from any pole or tower.
- No signs will be installed within the right-of-way, and any attachments to VELCO structures are prohibited.
- Safe clearance from electric lines, as determined by VELCO, must be maintained.
- Access roads, or any access areas, entrances, or exits should be aligned (where feasible) at right angles to the centerline of the right-of-way and shall not pass within 20 feet of any pole or tower or structure.
- Paving of parking areas is subject to review and approval by VELCO.
- To protect a pole or tower, a barrier, sufficient to withstand a 15 mph vehicular impact shall be erected by the party constructing the parking area. The barrier(s) shall be located in such a manner as to restrict parking to at least 20 feet from the structure.
6. Grading, filling or gravel excavation is generally prohibited. Approval may be given subject to the following conditions (in addition to the general provisions above):
- A plan must be submitted for review that describes, in detail, the intended activity. The existing and final profile of the right-of-way must be included on the plan(s).
- The intended activity cannot impede VELCO’s established travel routes or access to lines and structures.
- Any modifications to VELCO lines and structures that may be necessitated by unsafe clearances between the overhead lines and the finished grade – resulting from grade changes – will be paid for by the party encroaching or requesting utilization of the right-of-way. VELCO is responsible for determining what the minimum clearance will be, in accordance with the appropriate governing bodies
- Grading is prohibited within 30 feet of any pole, tower leg, or guy wire.
- Grading shall not result in slopes exceeding 3:1 (three units horizontal to one unit vertical) on the right-of-way.
- VELCO and other appropriate groups (i.e., Dig Safe) must be appropriately notified prior to the commencement of any activity that disturbs the existing grades in the right-of-way.
7. Roads, streets, walkways and driveways may be approved subject to the following conditions:
- They shall not parallel the centerline of the right-of-way.
- The conditions previously mentioned in Part 6 above in reference to grading and excavating are applicable.
- Ramps for crossing purposes may be installed where roads will cross the existing right-of-way.
- Paving is subject to review and approval by VELCO.
8. Buried counterpoise and other buried wires associated with the electric transmission line(s) must remain continuous. These wires are designed to enhance the system connection to ground. If a wire is inadvertently exposed, severed or otherwise damaged, VELCO must be notified. VELCO will repair and reconnect the counterpoise wire, at VELCO’s expense.
9. The utilization of rights-of-way for subsurface items such as septic systems, drainage systems, or utilities conduits requires specific approval. Approval may be given subject to the following conditions:
- A detailed plan prepared and signed by an individual possessing a Vermont ANR (Agency of Natural Resources) "Designer License" (or by a Vermont Profession Engineer with appropriate endorsement) must be submitted for review. The location and route of all system appurtenances must be dimensioned on the plan and referenced to VELCO’s numbered structures and edge of right-of-way. Systems must be adequately delineated to prevent inadvertent damage by heavy equipment
- The creation of new wells is not permitted within rights-of-ways.
- Marking tape must be installed within one foot of finished grade for all buried piping and conduit. The marking tape shall be 6" wide Detectable Warning Tape that has a 0.35 mil thick solid aluminum core.
- Drainage systems that have the potential to allow water to pond or cause erosion of the right-of-way will not be approved.
- Underground utilities conduit and piping may be allowed to run parallel to the center line if buried within the first 10 feet from the edge of the right-of-way.
- Underground installations in the right-of-way will not be permitted when deemed, in VELCO’s sole opinion, to be hazardous to VELCO facilities or to have the potential to interfere with maintenance and construction operations.
- The practice of burying tree stumps in rights-of-way is a hazard, and is not permitted.
10. Vegetation growth in rights-of-way is restricted and controlled by VELCO. Periodic maintenance is performed to remove uncontrolled brush and trees in the rights-of-way that have the potential to interfere with or damage lines. The following vegetation restrictions apply on rights-of-way:
- If landscaping is planned for the area within the right-of-way, a landscaping plan shall be submitted for VELCO approval. Elevation changes and mature species heights should be clearly indicated.
- Trees and other vegetation may be allowed, but are restricted to low growing species that do not mature at heights greater than 12 feet.
- Agriculture activities, such as plowing, are not allowed underneath or within 10 feet of individual transmission structure components, in order to prevent damage to grounding equipment (i.e., counterpoise or ground rods) installed in the right-of-way. Generally, this plowing restriction does not apply to areas underneath transmission lines.
11. In its sole discretion, VELCO may require the Landowner (and Landowners’ agents, contractors, etc.) at his/her own cost and expense to comply with safety requirements including, but not limited to, prior safety training, field inspections, and construction oversight. It will be the Landowner’s responsibility to schedule and make arrangements for any required training, inspection, or oversight. No decision, omission, or act of VELCO contemplated under this section shall be deemed to create any duty or liability owed by VELCO to the Landowner, his/her agents, contractors, licensees or invitees, nor shall any such decision, omission, or act of VELCO in any way diminish Landowners’ legal duties, including the Landowners’ duty to exercise reasonable care, control, and judgment in and around VELCO’s ROW.
12. Within 45 days of construction completion, all applicants with a conditionally approved project are required to provide VELCO with an "as-built" set of drawings stamped by a Vermont Professional Engineer, a Registered Land Surveyor, or a licensed professional, showing concurrence with, or minor deviations from, the VELCO approved plan. All conditional approvals are preliminary until such time as the "as-built" drawings are submitted and accepted by VELCO.
The preceding restrictions are based on safety and VELCO’s immediate and future needs. These restrictions should answer questions most often asked, but are not intended to cover every possible situation. Any request for use of rights-of-way not specifically mentioned here will be processed on an individual basis with these considerations in mind.