Trees & Power Lines: Frequently Asked Questions

Keeping Your Lights On

Why does AEP Ohio clear trees away from power lines?

We want to provide safe, reliable electric service to our customers. Trimming trees helps us do that. Clearing our utility rights of way is necessary to keep vegetation out of our lines and equipment and keep your lights on.

How does clearing trees prevent power outages?

Trees and limbs are one of the most common causes of power outages. One tree limb can knock out power to hundreds or even thousands of customers. Trees also can delay restoration of service when outages occur.

How will removing trees and limbs affect my service?

Clearing trees reduces outages and helps prevent outages when there is severe weather. If, in the past, trees have caused your power to go out or your lights to flicker, you will notice an improvement in your service after they’ve been trimmed.

A Proactive Approach to Preventing Power Outages

How often does AEP Ohio clear trees near lines?

We have an aggressive four-year clearing cycle. This means you can expect to see trees cleared from the lines that serve your area every four years.

How does AEP Ohio decide where to clear trees?

Clearing is based on our four-year cycle. Circuits, the areas designated for trimming, being cleared this year will be scheduled again in four years. If we see customers start to have outages from trees before the area’s next planned trimming cycle, we consider clearing these problem areas before the whole circuit is trimmed again.

How much trimming is done?

During the regular cycle, crews begin their work at the local AEP Ohio substation and continue along the power lines until they reach the end of the circuit.

How do you decide how much to trim from my trees?

Each tree species is different. The American National Standards Institute and the International Society of Arboriculture have pruning guidelines that support the continued growth of healthy trees. Our business partners follow these pruning guidelines. Trees that are diseased or dying are removed.

The trees near my house don’t seem to be anywhere near power lines, so why is AEP Ohio trimming my trees?

Electric utilities are required to maintain the appropriate clearance between trees and power lines. In some instances, we trim or remove vegetation or growth to account for potential factors such as future growth or movement of trees or power lines due to wind.

What if a tree isn’t in the right-of-way, but its branches are?

We’ll trim the branches that are within our right-of-way and threatening our power lines and equipment. If a removal is necessary, we’ll work directly with the property owner.

Who decides whether AEP Ohio can cut down a tree near a power line?

The choice of how to trim trees and manage vegetation growth near power lines is made by AEP Ohio, subject to state and local requirements and laws, applicable safety codes, and any limitations or obligations specified in rights-of-way agreements.

Does the work involve just trimming or are trees also removed?

Both scenarios are possible during a tree trimming cycle. Trees that grow directly under or near our lines may be removed rather than trimmed. If a tree is removed, our area utility foresters can help property owners select the proper tree for replanting.

If there is a dead tree in my yard, will AEP Ohio remove it?

AEP Ohio will only remove trees that pose a threat to our power lines or equipment. If you have a questionable tree on your property that is near power lines, you can submit a description and/or photo to our team at AEPOhioForestry@aep.com to help make an assessment.

Protecting You and Your Community

AEP Ohio wants to cut down a beloved tree in my yard. Why can’t I stop AEP Ohio from cutting down or trimming my trees?

We’re granted an easement or a right-of-way on private property in order to build and maintain electric power lines. The terms of a utility right-of-way, defining the rights of the parties for building and maintaining electric lines, are specific in right-of-way agreements are usually attached to the property deeds.

What if I don’t want my trees trimmed?

We have an obligation to provide you and your neighbors with safe, reliable power. We’re mandated by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to trim trees on our electric circuits every four years. We are committed to balancing the natural beauty of your neighborhood with the need to keep everyone’s lights on.

Experienced Professionals on Call for You

Who does this work?

We use several licensed tree care companies. All our contract tree-care companies are qualified to work around electrical lines and equipment. Please reach out to us at (614) 883.6987 if you have questions about crews working in your area.  

What type of forestry expertise do the tree trimmers have?

Our crews are managed by professionally certified foresters, arborists and technicians – follow trimming standards set by the International Society of Arboriculture, American National Standards Institute and the Tree Care Industry Association.

Does AEP Ohio follow any guidelines when clearing limbs and trees away from lines?

We do, and we have our own professional foresters who oversee the work. We follow standards set by the International Society of Arboriculture, American National Standards Institute and the National Arborist Association.

Can I trim my own trees?

You should not attempt to trim or remove tree limbs near or adjacent to power lines. If you have a concern, please report it online at AEPOhio.com/Trees or call (614) 883.6987. We use only trained and licensed professionals to clear trees away from our power lines. Serious injury or even death can occur to untrained individuals.

Can I hire a private company to handle tree trimming/removal on my property near power lines?

If you have trees or limbs close to power lines, contact AEP Ohio Forestry at (614) 883.6987 or AEPOhioForestry@aep.com before contracting a private service.

What if I'm doing a project outside and I have underground power lines?

Call 811 before you dig to make sure you don’t run into an underground power line.

What if I have trees interfering with my service drop?

We don’t trim trees that are threatening your service drop (the line that runs from our pole to your house). It’s the responsibility of the property owner. With notice, we’ll send a line crew to disconnect this service line for safety. Please contact us at least two business days in advance to have this work performed.

How It Works

Do you make communities aware of this work before it begins?

Yes. Just as with our customers, we want community leaders to know we will be trimming in their areas. Our forestry team and community affairs managers make every effort to reach out to local leaders and the community to answer questions and address any concerns.

How will I know when my trees are going to be trimmed?

Before we begin our work, we reach out to property owners to let them know we’ll be trimming trees on their property. We travel door to door and discuss details of the work to be done. If no one is home when we stop, we leave an information card with a contact number you can call if you have questions or concerns. You also may receive a brief recorded telephone message when work is about to begin.

How do I know which trees will be trimmed?

Our planners identify the trees that needed trimmed and will notify you about the work that needs to be done.

Will AEP Ohio tree trimmers enter my property if I’m not home?

We provide advanced notice to all communities before beginning scheduled tree service. If we need access to your private property, we will attempt to contact you via phone, mail and a personal visit prior to access. AEP Ohio has an obligation to provide safe, reliable power to you and your community.

What methods do you use to keep your power lines and equipment free of trees ?

We trim trees with many different methods, from crews climbing trees to all-terrain vehicles with cutting capabilities, as well as an aerial saw. You can view this video to learn more.

Does AEP Ohio remove debris after trees are trimmed?

We remove branches and limbs from maintained and landscaped areas when doing regular clearing. Wood is left for the property owner’s use. In non-maintained areas, wood, branches and limbs are left to decompose naturally.

We do not remove cut trees or limbs during emergency power restoration, such as after storms. Our tree crews are among the first responders as they work to safely clear trees from our lines and equipment and move to the next location as quickly as possible to allow our line crews to restore power. In these instances, property owners are responsible for removing tree debris.

AEP Ohio Forestry and the Environment

Does AEP Ohio use tree growth regulators or herbicides?

We have safely used growth regulators for more than 15 years. These products slow tree growth after they’re trimmed and help keep trees away from our lines for a longer time. Silver maple, elm, oak and sycamore are examples of fast-growing trees that may have growth regulators applied after trimming.

To ensure the safety of our customers and property owners, we use only herbicides registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other state and federal agencies. And we only use licensed and experienced applicators for this work to ensure proper application of the products.

Why doesn’t AEP Ohio invest in underground power lines so trees do not impact service?

AEP Ohio does invest in underground power lines when it’s to the benefit of our customers. The process for laying this infrastructure can be costly, disruptive to neighborhoods, and make it difficult to maintain the lines over time.

For More Information

What if I have further questions?

For more information about AEP Ohio's line clearing program, contact us at (614) 883.6987 or AEPOhioForestry@aep.com.

 

Can’t find the answer you’re looking for? Get in touch with our forestry team:

Submit an inquiry: Fill out this simple form and we’ll get back to you shortly.
Call: Speak with a team member at 614.883.6987.
Email: Send us a note directly at AEPOhioForestry@aep.com.

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