Tree Trimming FAQs


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 to dig into the roots of the trees, possibly causing immediate harm and making them susceptible to disease.
Ameren contracts with more than 300 tree-trimming crews who work year round on Ameren 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.
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.
If you are planting a tree, keep these hints in mind:

  • Avoid planting trees directly beneath power lines or too close to electrical equipment. This will help guarantee healthy growth in a safe area.
  • Consider planting trees of a slower growth or limited height variety, such as crab apples, hawthorns, ornamental pears or cherries.
  • Check for overhead and underground utility lines before working on trees.

For more information on tree planting, request a copy of Ameren’s tree planting brochure.
The TREE LINE USA award is given to utilities that meet three requirements:
  • Quality Tree Care - Ameren 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 directly sponsors planting initiatives and volunteer labor to community planting projects. Ameren makes available informational material on planting to its customers, and several of the Ameren Vegetation Management personnel are involved in groups such as Forest ReLeaf and the Missouri Urban Community Vegetation Management Advisory Council.
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 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 and tree characteristics.
Ameren has supported a number of programs to promote tree-planting and public education:
  • The Ameren Environmental Connections Program provides grants for selected projects that enhance the environment in communities Ameren serves.
  • This program awarded 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. Missouri communities that received funding in previous years include Eureka, Jefferson City and Lake Ozark.
  • Since 2002, Ameren contributes $25,000 each year to Forest ReLeaf of Missouri to sponsor Project CommuniTree - the program's community nursery located at Creve Coeur Park in Maryland Heights, 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.)
Ameren 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 may, therefore, hold easement rights on the land on which power lines and poles are located. Ameren requests landowners not to encroach on the easements with trees or buildings that may disrupt the operation of the lines.
  • 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 plant new trees, remember to plant the right tree in the right place.

When our crews trim along distribution power lines for regular maintenance, they normally remove the debris from the property unless other arrangements are made with the property owner to leave the debris. In heavily wooded areas, crews stack debris along the right-of-way. When crews clear trees and branches from power lines due to storm damage or natural weaknesses, emergency crews will not clean up the debris - instead leaving it for disposal by the property owner. If a homeowner is contracting a private tree service to trim or remove a tree, we will assist in making the tree safe for a qualified tree service to do its work. The debris will be left for the homeowner’s tree service to remove.