Utility easements

As your community-owned, not-for-profit electric service, we’re legally required to maintain the safety and reliability of our electrical system.

This means we occasionally need access to utility easements on your property to perform line inspections, vegetation management or repairs to our power lines and equipment.

SMUD workers doing easement work with a bobcat digger in a residential yard.

What is a utility easement?

A utility easement allows us the right to use and access specific areas of property owned by someone other than SMUD for installing and maintaining our electric lines and our equipment. A utility easement is attached to the property deed, so the easement passes on even when the property is transferred or sold.

What happens when SMUD needs access to a utility easement on your property?

If SMUD needs access to a utility easement on your property, we will try to notify you in advance of any work we plan to perform. Notification may be done in person, by mail or by leaving a notice on your front door. However, we may not be able to contact you in advance in an emergency situation, such as equipment damage or service interruption due to a storm or a vehicle collision with a power pole. All of our field crews carry SMUD-issued photo identification cards, and many wear uniforms and drive SMUD identified vehicles.

If you have any concerns, you can verify that a crew member is a SMUD employee by calling us at 1-888-742-7683.

Why is access to our utility easements important?

Any work we may perform on your property is done in accordance with legal requirements in order to prevent outages, reduce risk of damage to property and equipment and to maintain dependable electric service. Please review the topics below to learn additional ways to keep your property safe around our utility easements.

  1. The right tree in the right place:  To reduce fire risk and maintain reliable electric service, we require 10 feet of space between tree branches and power lines, as well as the clearance of vegetation around power lines, poles and transformer boxes. Find out more about our responsibilities and vegetation management tips.
  2. Thinking about development?  Check with us first to ensure there’s no interference with the utility easement access on your property.
  3. Keeping a safe distanceIf you have one of our transformer boxes in your yard, make sure there is at least eight feet of clearance around the green metal box.
  4. Under the groundBe safe if you're digging a hole to plant a tree, putting up a fence or adding a swimming pool. Call Underground Services at 811 or 1-800-227-2600 at least two days before digging to make sure you avoid underground gas pipelines and electric lines. Discover more information about digging. You can also read about related topics: