POWER LINE SAFETY ACT
In May 2019, the 86th Texas Legislature passed House Bill 4150 related to safety and inspection requirements for electric utilities. The new law, known as the William Thomas Heath Power Line Safety Act (PLSA) and codified in Texas Utilities Code Chapter 38, requires in part that electric utilities meet minimum clearance requirements in the construction of transmission or distribution lines over certain Texas lakes. The minimum clearance standards are those specified in the National Electric Safety Code (NESC) in effect in the year of construction. HB 4150 also requires that lines not meeting the NESC vertical clearance standards in effect at the time of construction be brought into compliance with NESC vertical clearance standards in effect on September 1, 2019.
To comply with the PLSA and Texas Utilities Code Chapter 38, and because United Electric Cooperative Services (United) places an emphasis on safety, United engaged a third-party engineering consultant to determine whether its distribution lines around eight different lakes within its service territory meet the current vertical clearance requirements of the NESC, regardless of whether they met the clearance standards in effect when the lines were originally constructed. Most distribution lines examined in this study do conform with the most current clearance requirements. However, it was determined that some isolated segments of lines should be adjusted if they are to meet the current vertical clearance standard for lake crossings, even if they met the clearance standard at the time of construction and regardless of whether the segments are over lakes or in adjacent flood plain areas. These segments are predominantly in areas that do not normally hold water and might not be over a lake, but can be subject to flooding in some instances. United has already begun to address the potential clearance issues in these areas, which entails rerouting some overhead distribution lines or converting them to underground distribution service within the segments identified. United is continuing with this effort to bring all power line infrastructure within the most current NESC requirements. To see more on United’s progress and the location of the line segments identified, detailed reporting, including maps, is available at this link:
General information about the PLSA can be found here: