Right of Way Clearing and Maintenance
A History of Environmental Stewardship
To safeguard the reliability of our transmission delivery system and our customers’ electric service, AEP has developed a vegetation management program to control the growth of trees and other vegetation around our transmission facilities and rights of way. The program balances our customers’ need for reliable energy with respect for the natural environment that surrounds our facilities.
Our goals are to:
- Protect our system and minimize outages
- Minimize any adverse environmental impacts
- Ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations
- Perform our work as safely and economically as possible, and
- Maintain a positive relationship with land owners and the public.
In August 2003, a major power outage struck the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada. Investigators found that a root cause of the blackout was a tree that had come in contact with a transmission line.
As a result of that event, new national standards with substantial penalties for non-compliance were created governing vegetation management practices for lines that are considered part of the national transmission grid.
The standards mandate that minimum clearance distances between transmission lines and the nearest vegetation must be established by each utility. AEP has established policies to ensure that we are in compliance with the federal guidelines.
To conform to the standards and maintain the reliability of the transmission system, we've made it a policy to remove all trees and other woody-stemmed vegetation within the rights of way of power lines that are considered part of the national transmission grid if the distance from the conductors to the ground is less than 100 feet.
However, under certain circumstances (unique topographic and/or environmentally- sensitive conditions) AEP may allow compatible, low-growing species to remain in the right of way. In maintained areas (i.e. mowed yards, lawns and public areas), AEP will work with landowners to determine if trees and other vegetation deemed compatible with safe operation of the line may remain.
In all cases, compatible species are limited to those that grow no more than 15 feet tall at maturity. This policy limits the potential for vegetation to interfere with the operation of the line. In areas where the distance from wires to the ground is greater than 100 feet, only vegetation that will potentially interfere with the operation of the line is removed, trimmed, or otherwise controlled.
Working With Property Owners
We continually strive to strike a balance between service reliability and respect for the natural landscape. We continue to invest time and resources into public education concerning proper tree care and sound environmental practices. AEP is an active participant in many organizations that support responsible vegetation management practices including: the National Arbor Day Foundation, the Utility Arborist Association, the International Society of Arboriculture, and various state and local vegetation management organizations.
Responsive to Concerns
While AEP goes to great lengths to collaborate with our neighbors, there are times when a landowner and the company may disagree on a specific issue. If that happens, we work diligently to resolve the problem and attempt to reach a mutually agreeable solution.
If you have a question or concern about AEP's transmission right of way vegetation management program, please contact us at one of the following telephone numbers:
Wheeling, WV: 1-800-852-6942
West Virginia: 1-800-982-4237
Indiana Michigan Power
Public Service Company of Oklahoma
Southwestern Electric Power Company
(East TX, LA, AR):
(North TX, Panhandle):
For more information on our policies for vegetation management in our transmission
rights of way, please review our brochure on Transmission Right of Way Clearing and Maintenance.