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In 2003, a tree made contact with a transmission power line in Ohio and set off a chain of events that ended with a blackout for more than 50 million people in the United States and Canada. This event awoke the nation to an issue that has been an obsession for most electric utilities: k​eeping tree limbs and falling trees from touching lines and causing outages. It’s a high priority, yet it is only one of many problems our crews dedicate their careers to solving – all in the interest of making electricity more reliable.


We search aggressively for worn out and damaged equipment, loose guy wires, unsafe trees and vegetation, erosion and other potential problems. Our inspectors fly our 3,000 miles of power lines each year. By climbing or using trucks, they physically inspect each power pole and tower every three years. They visit distribution substations every month, and they continuously monitor power line and substation equipment with remote sensors and testing. Equipment is also inspected after outages. Our equipment undergoes various forms of remote and on-site testing, including thermal imaging on transformers and line splices.

Upgrades and repairs

As needed, worn and damaged equipment are replaced, trees and other vegetation are pruned and erosion problems near our facilities are repaired. When electric demand peaks, we monitor the performance of loaded transformers and develop contingency plans with EMCs for emergency load-shedding, maintenance and equipment upgrades. We study fast-growing areas to locate capacity shortages that are fixed with larger or additional transformers, an increase of voltage of the lines and stations, or the construction of new facilities. Although more than 80 percent of storm-related outages are from distribution systems, not transmission, our crews conduct disaster activations for major storms and coordinate repairs with EMCs and other utilities.

Right-of-way maintenance

Vegetation in rights of way is either mowed or treated with herbicides every three years to provide access for utility vehicles.  Please see what rights of way uses are allowed, and see our planting guide to find out what types of vegetation are compatible with transmission lines. If you see a tree on the edge of right of way that is dead, diseased or leaning, please report it to us at 1-800-241-5375 to help us keep rights of way clear.

Federal reliability standards

As with most things we do, our maintenance efforts reduce outages and improve restoration times for EMCs and their members. They also keep us in compliance with new federal requirements. The 2003 blackout resulted in mandatory reliability standards and stiff penalties for violations. Georgia Transmission passed its first audit in 2008. We maintain an internal audit program to ensure compliance with the dozens of standards that cover every aspect of operations and maintenance.

Identifying a line or station

When reporting a maintenance problem, it is helpful to identify which utility owns the power line or substation. Signs on substation fences provide the name of the owner. Power poles and towers have plates or engravings with the name of the company that built them. Our lines are marked with Georgia Transmission or Oglethorpe Power, the power generation company we were part of until 1997. It is also helpful to note the number at the top of every transmission line and tower which identifies the order of structures from substation to substation. Since nameplates are not changed when a facility is sold to another utility, our staff can help identify poles and towers when callers provide a nearby street address or landmark.

Relate​​d links:

Georgia Electric Membership Corp.

Oglethorpe Power Corp.
(power generation)

Georgia System Operations Corp.
(dispatch and services)​