The pathways or property where the transmission lines are located are called rights-of-way. These rights-of-way are acquired by the company to ensure proper clearance for the power lines as well as provide access for maintenance and construction activities. Activities under or around power lines must be carefully controlled. The company must maintain zones or clear areas around facilities such as poles, wires and structures to perform maintenance work and for the safety of the public. Below are common questions that the company frequently receives regarding the rights-of-way.
What is a transmission right-of-way?
A transmission right-of-way most commonly is of a defined width and runs for the length of that transmission line. The right-of-way allows the power company to keep the area clear of any trees or other obstructions that may interfere with the right to operate the lines, perform maintenance or place additional lines on the right-of-way. Access to this right-of-way must always remain open to allow Mississippi Power to get its equipment to the lines and transmission structures.
How wide are the transmission rights-of-way?
The width of the transmission right-of-way depends on the voltage of the lines and if there is more than one line on the right-of-way. Mississippi Power has rights-of-way that are of varying widths.
What kind of lines are on the right-of-way?
Mississippi Power maintains several voltages of transmission lines in the state. We have 46 kV, 115 kV, 230 kV, and our largest lines are 500 kV. We also have located within the right-of-way our distribution lines that you most commonly see along the streets. These lines will vary in voltage depending on the area you live in.
Who owns the land under the power lines?
Most of the land under power lines is private property, not owned by Mississippi Power. We acquire rights from the property owner to locate the power lines on the property. Typically, a property owner grants an easement. This allows us the right to "construct, operate, maintain and access" power or communication lines on the land.
How can I tell where the edge of the right-of-way is on my property?
In a majority of the cases there will be an area that is cleared and on each side of the power lines you can see where the trees have been maintained by being trimmed. This will not tell you exactly where the right-of-way is but will give you an indication as to the approximate location of the right-of-way edge. You should review your property survey, as the right-of-way should be shown on the survey with measurements that you can use to better locate the right-of-way. The right-of-way specialist in your area can also assist you by marking the edge of the right-of-way on your property. The property owner should consult with a surveyor to accurately determine the edge of the right-of-way.
Who maintains the rights-of-way?
Mississippi Power has the right to clear rights-of-way of trees, buildings and other obstructions or activities that would likely interfere with the power lines. However, the property owner is responsible for maintaining their property, including the right-of-way. All responsibility to comply with any regulations regarding maintenance of property remains with the property owner.
What are some examples of acceptable uses by landowners of the transmission line rights-of-way?
Property owners may use the right-of-way for purposes not prohibited by the easement document and that do not unreasonably interfere with Mississippi Power's rights. Uses by property owners that typically do not interfere with our operations including growing crops, grazing livestock and even enhancing wildlife. A written agreement with Mississippi Power is required for most uses of right-of-way land. The utilities consider requests on a case-by-case basis. Safety and the ability to maintain lines are key factors during consideration.
Are transmission lines insulated? Can I operate equipment near the lines?
Transmission lines are insulated only by air. Everyone should stay clear of all transmission wires. No equipment such as cotton or grain harvesters, dump trucks or crane booms should be raised near a transmission line. In addition, care should be taken to maintain a safe distance from electric wires when using backhoes, cranes, forklifts, pile drivers, well drilling rigs and other tall equipment.
If you have questions about clearance, including whether placing fill within the right-of-way would violate easement rights, please contact the right-of-way specialist for your area.
Is trail riding by off-road vehicles allowed on the right-of-way?
No. The use of off-road vehicles on the right-of-way is not permitted. This type of use causes erosion to the area, disturbances to the property owners and can destroy the access routes that the company uses to get to the poles and wires.
Can I install a septic tank or field lines within the right-of-way?
Septic tanks are not allowed within the limits of the right-of-way. Septic field lines should, if at all possible, remain outside the limits of the right-of-way. If a field line must encroach into the right-of-way it is restricted to the outer 5 feet of the right-of-way and must be approved by Mississippi Power before installation. Lines that are allowed in the outer 5 feet of the right-of-way must be buried to a depth to withstand heavy equipment and the property owner assumes all responsibility for the lines and their repair.