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We are committed to providing safe, reliable power service to our customers. Trimming trees and brush helps us do that. Keeping our power lines and equipment clear is necessary for the safety of our crews, communities and infrastructure – and to keep your lights on.
Trees and limbs are the most common cause of power outages. One tree limb can knock out power to hundreds or even thousands of homes and businesses. Trimming trees and brush helps reduce and prevent outages when there is severe weather. Clear access to our lines and equipment also helps with faster power restoration.
I&M does invest in underground power lines when it's to the benefit of our customers. Underground infrastructure can be costly, disruptive to neighborhoods, and make it difficult to maintain the lines over time.

A Comprehensive plan to Help prevent power outages

We have a comprehensive program (sometimes referred to as "Vegetation Management") to manage trees and brush that grow around power lines – and it's proven to be effective at improving the reliability of our power service to you. At least every four years in Indiana and every five years in Michigan, you may see our crews in your neighborhood assessing the trees around our power lines and equipment and trimming or removing any threats.
Trimming is based on a four-year in Indiana and five-year in Michigan schedule. If we see customers start to have tree-related outages before the area's next planned trimming cycle, we may schedule trimming these problem areas before the whole area is scheduled to be trimmed again.
We follow the trimming standards set by the International Society of Arboriculture, American National Standards Institute and the National Arborist Association. These guidelines protect tree health while directing future growth away from the power lines. Trees near power lines that cannot be trimmed according to these guidelines may be considered for removal. Brush may be managed by mowing, hand-cutting or treating with US EPA-registered herbicides.

The direct way to prune tree limbs: the first cut (A) is made from the bottom of the branch, up 1/4 of the way through. The second cut (B) is made down through the branch until it drops, effectively removing the weight mass of the limb. The final collar-cut (C to D) is made without peeling the bark down the trunk. The branch collar is a swollen area at the base of every branch fork. By cutting just outside the collar, the tree will ‘seal' the cut surface.

Power companies are required to maintain the appropriate clearance between trees and power lines. Our experience with clearance requirements and growth patterns of tree species allows us to spot potential problems and hazards that may cause power outages. A specially trained forester will inspect the area to determine what kind of tree and brush trimming is necessary to establish a safe clearance from power lines. The forester looks for trees growing directly under power lines, overhanging branches and diseased or dying trees. We also plan for future growth and movement of trees or power lines due to wind and storms.

If you have a questionable tree on your property that is near power lines, please submit the Report a Tree.

You should never attempt to trim or remove trees near power lines. Serious injury or even death can occur.

We'll trim the branches that are threatening our power lines and equipment. If a removal is necessary, we'll work directly with the property owner.
The choice of how to trim trees and manage vegetation growth near power lines is made by I&M, subject to state and local requirements and laws, applicable safety codes, and any limitations or obligations specified in rights-of-way agreements.
Both are possible during a tree trimming cycle. Trees that grow directly under or near our power lines may be removed rather than trimmed. The I&M foresters can help property owners select the proper tree for replanting.
I&M 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, please submit the Report a Tree form to request an assessment.
We have an obligation to provide you and your neighbors with safe, reliable power. We're mandated by the Indiana Regulatory Commission and Michigan Public Service Commission to trim trees every four or five years. We are committed to balancing the natural beauty of your neighborhood with the need to keep everyone's lights on.
Transmission lines are high-voltage and extra-high voltage lines that carry electricity from power plants to substations, which reduce the voltage for delivery to customers on distribution lines. The process and requirements for clearing and maintaining vegetation differ around transmission and distribution lines. AEP Transmission's Vegetation Management program explains the requirements for transmission lines.

Experienced Proffessionals working for you

We use several licensed tree care companies that are qualified to work around power lines and equipment. The contractors are supervised by the I&M's professional foresters.
We follow standards set by the International Society of Arboriculture, American National Standards Institute and the National Arborist Association. I&M professional foresters, arborists and technicians oversee all work.
You should never attempt to trim or remove tree limbs near power lines. We use only trained and licensed professionals to clear trees away from our power lines.
We don't trim trees that are threatening your service drop (the line that runs from our pole to your house). This is the responsibility of the property owner. For your safety, call 800.311.4634 two business days before you plan to work and we will send a crew to disconnect the service line.
It is difficult to identify which lines on a pole are power lines and which are cable TV and phone lines. Generally, power lines are the highest lines located on a pole.

How it works

We provide advanced notice by sending a letter and email to your home. In addition, we notify local leaders and community officials of the trimming plans. You may also see social media posts saying we will be in your area soon.
We provide advanced notice to all communities through mail and email 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. If no one is home, we will leave a door hanger with contact information. I&M has an obligation to provide safe, reliable power to you and your community.
Our planners identify the trees that needed trimmed and will notify you about the work that needs to be done.
We trim trees with many different methods, from crews climbing trees to all-terrain vehicles with cutting capabilities.
We remove branches and limbs from maintained and landscaped areas during scheduled trimming. The wood is left for the property owner's use. In non-maintained areas, wood, branches and limbs are left to decompose naturally.

Also, through our Branch to Browse partnership, some of the trees and branches our forestry crews regularly trim are donated and delivered to the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo and Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend.

During emergency power restoration, such as after storms, we do not remove cut trees or limbs. Our tree crews are among the first responders. They must work as quickly and as safely as possible to clear trees and limbs from our power lines and equipment to allow our crews to restore power. During storm restoration, property owners are responsible for removing tree debris.

I&M Forestry and the Environment

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 professionals for this work to ensure proper application of the products.
Today's sapling can be tomorrow's problem, causing a power outage or accident. Choosing the right place for the right tree is an important decision. Before planting, look above, below and around the area. By taking the time to plan before you plant, you'll be rewarded with beautiful results and avoid future problems.

Avoid buying the fastest-growing you can find. Fast-growers are traditionally weak-wooded trees that can be easily damaged during storms. These trees require repeated pruning and can be hazardous if located adjacent to homes, buildings and power lines.

Only plant low-growing shrubs under power lines. Small variety trees need to be planted at least 15 feet away from power lines, medium variety trees at least 30 feet away and large variety trees at least 40 feet away from power lines. Remember, I&M needs at least 10 feet of clearance from the power line – when the tree is fully grown.

We appreciate your efforts to plant the right tree in the right place. Doing so can help us avoid trimming and help you protect your investment. For information about tree planning and maintenance, visit:

If you're planting near a transformer (those green or gray metal boxes the yard), keep a distance of 10 feet from any side with the locked door and 3 feet from other sides. Our crews need space to safely open the transformer.


Email us at IMforestry@aep.com.

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