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Height Requirements for Overhead Lines

Take special note of overhead line clearances especially in farm yards and at approaches when moving equipment in and out of fields. Southeastern tries to maintain overhead line clearances but cannot guarantee clearances if lines are lowered by storms or material failure.  If you are concerned about or have a question about clearances please call us at 1-800-333-2859 and we will accommodate you in any way we can. Contact Us.

Utility Pole Configuration
The typical utility pole configuration that is seen running down the side of a roadway can be best described by referring to the diagram shown below.

height requirements southeastern electric

The lowest level utility lines are typically the communications lines (telephone, cable, etc.). Electrical utility lines (phase, neutral, secondary) are at the highest level, or at the top of the utility poles. It is important to note that while this diagram represents the usual utility pole configuration, it does not represent all utility pole configurations. For example, there can be instances where only communications lines are present or instances where only electrical lines are present. The vertical clearances for lines A-D are described below. These minimum distances can vary depending on location, pole/line configurations, and utility line characteristics.






18.5 ft

Applies to phase wires 22kV and below. For voltages above 22kV phase-to-ground, see NESC Rules 232C and 232D.



15.5 ft

Applies to neutrals meeting NESC Rule 230E1.



16.0 ft

Applies to secondaries 750V or less meeting NESC Rule 230C2 or 230C3 (triplex, quadruplex, etc.).



15.5 ft

Applies to cable TV, phone, fiber optic cables, etc.

Vertical Clearances

The governing standard for clearances between overhead utility facilities and land traversed by vehicles is the National Electric Safety Code (NESC), which prescribes minimum requirements and is considered the industry standard for such clearances across the country.
NESC Rule 232 covers the "vertical clearances of wires, conductors, cables, and equipment above ground, roadway, rail, or water surfaces."

 Utilities are required to design, construct, and maintain all new facilities in accordance with this standard. With respect to existing facilities, the code is revised on a continuing basis, and although these facilities are not technically required to comply with the latest editions, most installations provide adequate clearances for the appropriate nature of the surface. Over time, these utility lines can sag below the original construction level, and the topography of the area can be altered due to changes in land usage. The public should never attempt to touch or move a utility line at any time and should always consider such lines “live” and dangerous.

When confronted with what appear to be low hanging utility lines, farmers should first contact the utility responsible for the line, be it the local electric company or phone, cable, or internet provider. If the responsible utility is not known, the local electric company should be contacted. If the facilities are shown to be out of compliance with current NESC standards, the applicable utility shall be responsible for rectifying the situation. If the facilities are shown to be in compliance with the standards, but the farmer desires the lines to be elevated to allow for access or equipment operation, the farmer shall be responsible for the cost of any necessary work on the part of the utility.