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Project Cooperation1 

A TREE PRUNING POLICY TO KEEP OUR NEIGHBORHOODS SAFE AND BEAUTIFUL WHILE MAINTAINING SAFE AND RELIABLE ELECTRICAL SERVICE

A collaborative effort of Indianapolis Power & Light Company (“IPL”) and its Customers.

GOAL:

To establish a best-in-class tree pruning and removal policy that will promote and maintain a healthy urban forest while maintaining accepted public safety standards, system reliability and economy.

GUIDELINES:

1. While the need for the utility to prune or remove trees near power lines is clear, all tree work should be limited to what is deemed necessary in IPL’s judgment for the proper maintenance of existing and new utility facilities in order to provide safe, reliable and economic utility service.

2. Prior to any routine tree pruning or removal, the utility shall provide a minimum of the following notifications to residents who will have work performed on their trees;

  • Three Months Prior to Scheduled Pruning: Information packet distributed to each Neighborhood Association, including availability of IPL representative to address association’s questions.
  • Two Consecutive Months Prior to Scheduled Pruning: Notification in electric bill.
  • One Month Prior to Scheduled Pruning: Individual mailing to each customer.
  • Two weeks prior to scheduled pruning: An in-person notification attempt will be made.  If direct contact is not established, a door hanger will be left on a main door or entrance at the premise. Unless we receive communication from the property owner within the following two weeks, we will assume there is implied consent for the scheduled work.

Note: With respect to removals, the utility shall obtain a signed notification from the person who has ownership and control over the tree before removing such tree. However, no such signed notification is necessary if the utility has clearly documented rights to manage vegetation, as in the case of certain transmission right-of-ways.

Note: This notification requirement will be waived during emergency situations, as determined by the utility or public officials. Emergencies may include, but not be limited to, falling trees, trees causing outages, trees on fire due to contact with overhead lines, or hazards with imminent potential to cause damage or harm to the public or property.

3. Upon receiving such notice, the resident shall have the right to request an on-site meeting with the utility representative to discuss the proposed work, at a time that is mutually convenient for the tree owner and the utility. During these meetings, the utility shall inform the customer of alternatives as defined in section 9 of this agreement. The utility shall work diligently to try and reach an amicable resolution to any conflict as raised by the tree owner. Contact information will be clearly documented in all forms of notification outlined in section 2.

4. All tree pruning and maintenance shall be done pursuant to the pruning practices of ANSI 300 STANDARDS and the practices set forth by Dr. Alex L. Shigo in his Field Pocket Guide for Qualified Line-Clearance Tree Workers. The amount of trimming will depend on the specific species and site conditions. Customers will be notified if trimming results in more than 25% of a tree’s existing canopy being removed in the pruning cycle.

5. The tree pruning is intended to keep parts of the tree from coming into contact with the power lines in order to prevent power outages and fires, and to reduce the likelihood that a person could use some part of the tree as a "platform" to accidentally come into contact with the power lines. As to the second concern, people coming into contact with the lines, the parties understand that certain limbs or parts of the trees could serve as a "platform" on which an individual could stand and reach up or out toward a line.

6. The parties acknowledge that it is not feasible for the utility to prune individual trees more often than once every 3 years. Therefore, trees must be pruned initially in such a manner that, assuming the expected growth rate of that species of tree, the Margin of Safety will be present until the next required pruning.

  • Pruning Decurrent Trees3 : Trees shall be pruned in accordance with ANSI A300 pruning standards Section 5.9 Utility Pruning. Where possible, the trees will be pruned in a manner intended to maintain, as much as possible, the natural appearance of the tree.
  • Pruning Excurrent Trees4 Where excurrent trees are located underneath a primary conductor a heading cut shall be used on the tree in order to achieve an adequate clearance from the high-voltage lines. Where possible, the trees will be pruned in a manner intended to maintain, as much as possible, the natural appearance of the tree.

It is also recognized by the parties that each clearance established at time of pruning will be unique and based upon the site-specific conditions, proximity to the primary voltage conductors, potential threats to the conductors, and the projected growth rate of the species of tree.

7. If required pruning will result in a less than desirable appearance, the utility shall advise the tree owner of available options as defined in Item 9 of this agreement.

8. The utility shall provide a training program for its contractors that incorporate these policies.

9. Dispute Resolution Provision. The parties agree that by working together to resolve issues before the work is completed there is a greater likelihood that future problems will not occur. The utility, in addition to providing specific notification of pending work, offers a list of alternatives for customers who do not wish the required work to be performed. Customers may ask for the work not to be completed. If this request is made, IPL will work with the customer to try to develop an alternative solution that will ensure the safety and reliability for all customers. The alternatives shall include:

  • Tree removal as opposed to pruning. The utility shall, at its discretion, provide tree removal services and a tree replacement option. The owner must agree not to replant a tree that will encroach into the electric facilities at a future date.
  • Reconstruction or relocation of the electric facilities at the tree owner’s expense
  • Under grounding of lines at the tree owner’s expense

Note: These alternatives are contingent upon the applicable site-specific circumstances. For example, if relocating or reconstructing the line is not a viable option due to either local ordinances or engineering impossibilities, this option will not be made available to the customer.

10. A pre-inspection component is a critical part of an effective and fair tree pruning policy. To that end, IPL has contracted the services of one degreed forester or arborist. This individual, while working for the Utility, shall:

  • A. Manage the site-specific pre-inspection program.
  • B. Manage a comprehensive auditing and educational program, including but not limited to:
    1. Performing routine post-auditing of completed work to ensure compliance with pruning and removal specifications
    2. Developing and presenting training for contractors and utility employees
    3. Developing and presenting programs at schools, civic groups, and homeowners and neighborhood associations
    4. Assisting individual customers and the utility in resolving tree related issues
    5. Assisting the utility in implementing an enhanced tree removal and replacement program.

11. The utility has developed and implements an education plan to educate the public about proper pruning and tree planting near power lines.

12. The utility has obtained the National Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Line USA designation.

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1Project Cooperation was originally created through a stakeholder process involving IPL's customers. Although the terms of the agreement expired, IPL continues to use Project Cooperation modified to reflect more recent developments including the Commission's Order in Cause No. 43663.

2If the main door is not accessible, the door hanger should be left in close proximity.

3De-current trees are typically rounded in shape and do not have a single dominant stem growing from the base of the tree upwards to the top of the tree. Examples include oaks, maples, and sycamore trees.

4Excurrent trees typically have one main trunk that is visible from the base of the tree upwards. Examples include most pine trees and redwoods.

For more information contact IPL Line Clearing at 317.261.8128 or by e-mail at tom.walker@aes.com.

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