IMPACT ON SOCIETY AND EMPLOYEESQuality of life of Poles vs. electricity supply

When using transmission facilities it is very important to exercise elementary caution and common sense. The equipment included in electrical power lines is designed to minimize the risk of negative effects on persons in the vicinity of the lines. The location of lines is planned so that the transmission facilities do not pose a threat to surrounding human habitats, and so that they blend into the landscape to the greatest extent possible.

In order to eliminate possible hazards, qualified employees of PSE take periodic preventive measures in the form of line surveys and inspection of their condition. In the event of circumstances requiring an intervention, they take actions to eliminate situations that potentially threaten property and people present in the vicinity of the lines. These activities are intensified in situations of increased risk or crisis, such as floods or hurricanes. In the aforementioned situations, cooperation between the company's employees and owners of real properties adjacent to power lines is also extremely important. These are often the people living in the vicinity of the lines who are the best source of information regarding the phenomena occurring. The goodwill and help of those people can significantly help to address potential risks or shorten the process of remedying a failure.

The owners of real properties on which transmission facilities are located or over which electrical power lines run, have, in principle, free access to their real properties, which they may use freely while maintaining suitable precautions; they are free to use them as they wish, subject to precautionary requirements. Thus, they may run their business activities freely using certain equipment and machinery or engage in farming without time limitations.

How to organize your life next to a line?

In order to live undisturbed in the vicinity of the line, it is sufficient to use common sense and observe elementary precautions – especially in the area of the buffer zone.

The buffer zone is the area directly under the power line and on both sides of the line, where construction, alteration, modernization and operation are allowed, and within the boundaries of which the freedom of land use is limited due to the safety of the line operation and the immediate surroundings. The width of the buffer zone can range – depending on the type of the line – from 50 m to 80 m.

For the sake of safety, one should also refrain from any activity that could jeopardize undisturbed operation of the line or cause potential danger to the persons present in its vicinity. It is forbidden to interfere with the line in any way and to carry out activities that may lead to damage or electrocution, such as climbing on poles or carrying out field work using machinery that is high or has long booms.

PSE conducts periodic surveys of lines and assessments of their technical condition. If we record circumstances that may affect the continuity of electricity supply or pose a threat to property or people around a line, we immediately take remedial measures. All work – repairs, renovations, clearing of trees exceeding height standards, etc. – is done by qualified teams of professionals from our organization and at the PSE's expense.

Worth knowing

The width of the buffer zone primarily depends on the rated voltage of the line and the type (series) of poles used. The boundaries of the buffer zone for lines of a specific voltage are determined based on requirements included in regulations on permissible values of electric and magnetic field intensity, and noise level.

The averaged width of the buffer zone for different types of extra-high voltage lines operated in the country is a maximum of – for 400 kV lines (depending on the line design): 40 m, 35 m and 30 m from the centreline in the case of a 400 kV line built on Z52 poles, and 25 m from the centreline in both directions for 220 kV lines.

Figure 1: The buffer zone for 400 kV lines. 

Rules to follow in the vicinity of electrical power lines:

  1. Unauthorised climbing poles and touching of transmission equipment, especially power lines, is forbidden.
  2. It is prohibited to erect new residential buildings or new civil structures with rooms to be regularly occupied by people directly under the line or in its buffer zone (the area directly under and on both sides the line).
  3.  Owners of properties that are farmlands may freely cultivate crops on their land and work using heavy farming equipment (combines, tractors, seeders, and other mechanical farming machinery). Caution is required at the same time – especially in situations where the machinery or equipment used has long booms or is tall by design.
  4. There are no restrictions on grazing cattle or other livestock under or right next to overhead lines, nor are there any impediments to the creation of fish ponds. According to review papers and data published by the World Health Organization (WHO), electromagnetic fields in the vicinity of extra high voltage power lines are not harmful to livestock.
  5. Plantings that would come dangerously close to electrical power lines are not permitted due to the potential risk of tree branches touching the electrical power lines. PSE conducts continuous monitoring of company-owned equipment. In case of excessive growth of trees or shrubs near lines, appropriate cutting works are carried out. This work is conducted at the expense of PSE, and the wood obtained during cutting works is transferred to the real property owners. Our company currently performs tree cutting according to a five-year standard, for which the contractor provides a four-year guarantee. The distance of the conductors from the tree crowns is, therefore, determined based on the current crown dimensions, taking into account the five-year growth appropriate to the tree species and the site. In the event of above-normal growth during the guarantee period, additional work is performed immediately at the contractor's expense. Cutting work is only required under strictly defined circumstances. In situations where ornamental or orchard trees that do not reach significant heights are planted, the work mentioned above is not necessary.
Worth knowing

There is no potential for adverse environmental impacts outside the designated buffer zone area. In addition, stringent requirements imposed for residential development areas are met.

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