Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) owns a right-of-way easement along the length of the transmission line (width varies by transmission line). WAPA’s rights within the easement include the right to construct, reconstruct, operate, maintain, and patrol the transmission line.

Rights usually reserved to the landowner include the right to cultivate, occupy, and use the land for any purpose that does not conflict with WAPA’s use of its easement. To avoid potential conflicts, it is WAPA’s policy to review all proposed uses within the transmission line easement. We consider (1) Safety of the public, (2) Safety of our Employees, (3) Restrictions covered in the easement, (4) WAPA’s maintenance requirements, and (5) Protection of the transmission line structures and (6) Road or street crossings.

The outline below lists the considerations covered in the review. Please note that some items may overlap. This outline has been prepared only as a guide; each right-of-way encroachment is evaluated on an individual basis.

1.   Safety of the Public

A.   Approval depends, to a large extent, on the type and purpose of the development. WAPA takes our obligation to public safety very seriously. To insure our obligation, any use of the easement that will endanger the public will not be allowed or strongly discouraged (e.g., kite flying is prohibited).

B.   Metal fences must be grounded in accordance with applicable safety codes.

C.   Lighting standards shall not exceed a maximum height of 15 feet and not placed directly under the conductors (wires). All lighting standards must be grounded.

D.   All vegetation on the easement shall not exceed a maximum height of 12 feet at maturity.

E.   Structures are not allowed on the easement. Structures include, but are not limited to, buildings, sheds, swimming pools, basketball courts, tennis courts, gazebos, etc.

F.   No ground elevation changes are allowed which would reduce the ground to conductor clearance below 30 feet.

2.   Safety of Our Employees

A.   Vegetation and encroachments into our right-of-way requires our crews to take action, which places them at risk. Therefore, any vegetation or encroachments that present a risk to our employees will not be allowed.

3.   Restrictions Covered In the Easement

A.   The easement prohibits the following: (1) any use that will interfere with or damage the equipment of the United States, (2) digging or drilling of a well, (3) erecting buildings or structures, (4) placing or piling up material within the easement boundaries. The easement gives WAPA the right to remove trees, brush or other objects interfering with the safe operation and maintenance of the line.

4.   Maintenance Requirements

A.   Berms shall not be placed next to the base of the transmission line tower.

B.   Any proposed improvements to the easement (including grading, parking lot, lighting, landscaping, fences, etc.), must be reviewed by WAPA to assure that they will not interfere with the safe operation and maintenance of the transmission line.

C.   A 14-foot gate is required in any fences that cut off access along our easement.

5.   Protection Of The Transmission Line Structure (Towers, Guy Wires, etc.)

A.   If the proposed use increases the possibility of a motor vehicle hitting the transmission line structure, an appropriate guard rail shall be installed to protect the structure (e.g., parking lots or roads).

B.   Trench digging, which would weaken or damage the structure, is prohibited.

C.   No ground elevation changes are allowed within 20 feet of the structure, and in no case shall the conductor to ground clearance be reduced below code limitation.

6.   Roads or Street Crossings

A.   WAPA’s policy is to have roads or streets cross the easement at right angles, or as nearly at right angles as possible, so that a minimum area of the road or street lies within the transmission line easement.

Requests for permission to use the transmission line right-of-way should be submitted to: Western Area Power Administration, Sierra Nevada Regional Office, Attn: Realty Officer, 114 Parkshore Drive, Folsom, CA 95630.

Last modified on September 6th, 2023