Ameren Illinois trims trees to minimize the likelihood of safety hazards and power outages. During high winds, strong thunderstorms or snow or ice storms, limbs and even whole trees can fall on electric lines, tearing down energized lines and equipment. Broken limbs can cause outages just by making the right kind of contact with electric lines and equipment.
Usually, when homes are built an easement is granted at the time of development that allows utilities the ability to access and maintain their equipment. Ameren Illinois may therefore hold easement rights on the land on which power lines and poles are located. Ameren Illinois requests landowners not to encroach on the easements with trees or buildings that may disrupt the operation of the lines.
Why did you trim so much of my tree?
Faster growing trees will require more clearance than slower growing trees. Smaller, slower growing trees will require less trimming and are more suitable to be planted closer to electric lines. Ameren Illinois takes into consideration what type of species the tree is, how fast the tree will grow, how close it is to the electric lines, and the type of voltage running through those lines. The required distance between vegetation and power lines varies from line to line depending on the voltage, local ordinances, tree characteristics and the tree owner.
Why don’t you trim less and come back more often?
Ameren Illinois contracts with more than 300 tree-trimming crews who work year round on Ameren Illinois easements. In determining our maintenance cycle, we consider our objective of providing safe, reliable service, as well as the costs involved. The costs of maintaining the electrical system, including tree-trimming costs, are recovered in our rates. It’s a balance of providing you a safe, dependable electrical system while keeping costs within reason.
Why can’t you shape trees while trimming them clear of lines?
The directional pruning method we use is endorsed by the International Society of Arboriculture. Directional pruning, also known as “lateral trimming,” removes only those branches that conflict with power lines. Rather than cutting limbs back to unsightly and unnatural stubs, branches are pruned back to the center of the trunk where trees normally shed them. Future tree growth is directed away from the power lines.
Directionally pruned trees are less susceptible to disease and insects, and the overall structure of the tree is stronger and more resistant to high winds and ice. Although the shape has been altered, it is recommended over topping or rounding of trees, which tends to promote quick re-growth of small, weakly attached shoots.
We work to provide you with safe, reliable power, and we have a responsibility to do that in an environmentally sound way.
Why can’t you put the line underground?
In older neighborhoods with overhead lines, placing lines underground is difficult and expensive. Many trees are already well established. Placing power lines underground would require Ameren Illinois to dig into the roots of the trees, possibly causing immediate harm and making them susceptible to disease.
How can the public help to reduce the frequency of outages?
First, understand that our tree trimming service is an integral part of our goal to provide you with safe, reliable electric service.
Second, try to keep an open mind when our line clearance crews explain why trimming is occurring.
Third, by allowing our contractor to use the proper trimming techniques your trees remain healthy, and the regrowth from the tree will tend to interfere less with power lines.
Finally, if you are planting new trees, remember to plant the right tree in the right place. See our Tree Planting Tips for more information.
How does Ameren Illinois decide when to prune?
We have a routine maintenance program for trees and brush growth around power lines. In cases where tree conditions are worse, a line that begins to show an unusual number of tree-related outages may be trimmed sooner than originally anticipated.
Can I prune trees myself?
Never attempt to prune trees near power lines yourself. Only qualified line clearance tree contractors are allowed to work within a minimum of 10 feet of high voltage lines. If there is any question, call Ameren Illinois at 800.755.5000 for an inspection of your tree and line situation.
Service drops - the lines that deliver electricity from Ameren Illinois power poles to the customer's meters - are relatively low voltage (typically 120/240) and are not normally pruned by Ameren Illinois' contractors. Trees near this line are the property owner's responsibility. See an illustration that includes information on service drops.
If you are concerned about tree growth near your service drop you may call and schedule an appointment to have your service drop disconnected in order to have the trees near this line trimmed safely. Please call Ameren Illinois at 800.755.5000 to request a service drop disconnection. We recommend that you hire a professional tree service to do this trimming.
Phone and cable company lines, those usually found in the lowest position on a pole, do not have clearance requirements, because they do not carry any significant electrical current.
Can Ameren Illinois recommend a company in my area for tree work away from power lines?
We cannot recommend a particular company, but we do encourage homeowners to make sure the company they choose has a qualified arborist on staff, is insured for personal property, liability and workman’s compensation, and is affiliated with an arboricultural organization.
What if I have a complaint about your tree trimming policies or procedures?
If you live in Ameren Illinois' service area, you may have received a postcard about tree trimming in your area.
You do not need to respond to the notice, but if you have any questions or concerns about the work to be done, please call 800.755.5000.
I know about your programs to trim trees - do you also have programs that support planting new trees?
Ameren Illinois has supported a number of programs to promote tree-planting and public education:
The Ameren Illinois Environmental Connections Program provides grants for selected projects that enhance the environment in communities Ameren Illinois serves.
This program awarded approximately $40,000 in grants to community organizations in the Missouri cities of Caruthersville, Dexter, Mexico, Boonville, Prairie Home and Excelsior Spring, along with the East Central Region of the Missouri Community Forest Council. The Illinois cities of and in the Illinois cities of Alton, Harrisburg, Carrier Mills, Peoria, Galesburg, Bloomington and Edwardsville, along with the Southwestern Illinois Regional Forestry Council were also awarded grants. Communities that received funding in previous years include Eureka, Jefferson City and Lake Ozark in Missouri, and Carbondale, Mattoon, Salem, Petersburg and Taylorville in Illinois.
Ameren also contributes $25,000 each year to Forest ReLeaf of Missouri to sponsor Project CommuniTree - a pioneer 10-acre nursery operating in Berkeley, Mo., where trees are grown for planting on public property and on land owned by nonprofit organizations.
Individuals, organizations, community groups and municipalities are eligible to apply to Forest ReLeaf for the trees, which are available on a first-come, first-served basis each spring and fall. Recipients are asked to care for the trees for at least three years after planting. (For more information, call toll-free 888.4.RELEAF or in St. Louis, call 314.533.LEAF.)
As part of the Ameren Illinois Right Tree, Right Place Grant Program we work with municipal leaders to identify trees which may be better suited for removal rather than continual trimming. This grant program provides municipalities with funds to replace removed trees or promote the principles of the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA Program. Communities will be awarded $125 for each eligible removed tree.
Can you offer any advice for planting trees to avoid being in conflict with power lines?
How does Ameren Illinois get designated as a TREE LINE USA utility?
The TREE LINE USA award is given to utilities that meet three requirements:
Quality Tree Care - Ameren Illinois contractors follow industry guidelines and principles in proper pruning techniques.
Annual Worker Training - All Ameren Vegetation Management supervisors and contractor general foremen are certified by the International Society of Arborists (ISA), which guarantees continued updated training through Continuing Education Units. Also, crew training, evaluation and audits are conducted by the above arborists.
Tree Planting and Public Education - Ameren Illinois directly sponsors planting initiatives and volunteer labor to community planting projects. Ameren Illinois makes available informational material on planting to its customers, and several of the Ameren Illinois Vegetation Management personnel are involved in groups such as Forest ReLeaf and the Missouri Urban Community Vegetation Management Advisory Council.
Where can I go to find other information on proper tree care?