Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to the questions we receive most often when it comes to utilizing our transmission right-of-way.

Can I plant anything in the right-of-way area?

No. Please contact your utility before planting any trees or shrubs in the right of way area.  There are specific trees that are acceptable under the line and we can provide you guidance in making your decision.  Most easements restrict tall growing vegetation in the right-of-way and we don’t want to remove your new tree. Activities in the easement area that do not interfere with the safe construction, operation and maintenance of the line are permitted, i.e. using the land for pastureland, farming , native landscaping, pollinator habitat or gardening. Learn more about Xcel Energy’s vegetation management program and what is safe to plant in the right-of-way.

Can I construct a building or other structure beneath a power line?

No. We generally do not approve any structures in the easement. You would need written approval from the electric utility. Buildings and other structures are generally not permitted on rights of way. In Wisconsin, it is prohibited by law to build a dwelling under a power line. It is important that you discuss projects with the utility in order to avoid creating situations that could become unsafe to the landowner and/or utility workers. Conditions will vary, but the primary building and planting restrictions within the right-of-way are in place to ensure that a utility has the necessary clearance for operation and maintenance and to comply with the National Electrical Safety Code.

How do I locate the size of the right-of-way to know if I am encroaching on it?

In general, the larger the transmission line voltage, the larger the right-of-way. For example, 345 kilovolt transmission lines usually have a 150 foot right-of-way and a 69 kV line typically has a 50 foot ROW. To determine the size and location of the right-of-way on your property it is best to review the easement for the facility.  Our more recent easement documents have drawings that depict the right-of-way on your property.  We have staff that can work with you to help ensure your activities don’t impact our safe operation of the facility.

What is an encroachment?

Any use of the property under a transmission line that is not permitted in the terms of the easement is considered an encroachment and must be approved by Xcel Energy. When a property owner would like to make changes to the land, plant trees or shrubs or construct something on the right-of-way, you can apply for an encroachment by filling out this form.  Staff will review the request and determine if it can be granted.  There is a $500 fee to process the request.

Do I need encroachment approval if I have a permit from my community?

Yes, the permit obtained from a local authority only constitutes approval between you and that local authority. You must also obtain approval from Xcel Energy to do any work or activity in the transmission right-of-way.

What is an easement?

An easement is a permanent right authorizing a person or party to use private land or property of another for a particular purpose. For example, a utility acquires certain rights to build and maintain a transmission line. Landowners are paid a fair price for the easement and can continue to use the land for most purposes, although some restrictions are included in the agreement.

What is a right-of-way?

A right-of-way is the land area legally acquired for a specific purpose, such as the placement of transmission facilities and for maintenance.

The following list includes examples of uses that may be permitted within the right-of-way, but every encroachment request is granted on a case by case basis.

  • Crops
  • Drainage ditches
  • Driveways
  • Fences
  • Parking
  • Ponds
  • Recreational activities

The following uses of our transmission line right-of-way are generally not allowed.

  • Burning
  • Sheds
  • Tree farms
  • Permanent structures of any kind
  • Septic tanks / Drain fields
  • Swimming pools
  • Wells
  • Trees or shrubs that can impact the safe operation of our facilities they reach maturity.
  • Fuel Tanks
  • Propane Tanks
  • Climbing walls
  • Playground equipment including trampolines.
  • Flying kites, model airplanes, or model rockets