INDIANAPOLIS — Indy resident Peter Carroll said he was happy to see a utility truck on Monday morning parked in the alley behind his home just off E. 42nd St.

About a month ago, Carroll received a letter from AES advising him that a tree-trimming crew contracted by the utility company would be working in his neighborhood near the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Members of the crew, the letter said, would be looking for tree branches that could potentially fall onto power lines in stormy weather, causing the lights to go out.

“I know how that is,” Carroll said, pointing to a power line extended between his house and an AES pole in the nearby alley. “A limb falls on that wire out there, it’s going to take it down.”

This is something that Carroll said happens to him and his wife two to three times a year.

“Tree fell right there and took that wire out,” he recalled. “We were without light for probably a week and she was crying every day.”

AES maintains about 700 miles of above-ground power lines that supply electricity to roughly 500,000 customers in the Indianapolis area. Many of those raised lines run between limbs and branches of old trees, especially in some of Indy’s older neighborhoods. 

It is because of this that AES crews work year-round on a 36-month cycle to look for trees and branches that could come down onto power lines when storms bring strong winds.

“We’re looking for misplaced and improperly maintained trees that can cause power outages and can be dangerous when the branches meet the power lines,” said AES spokesperson Kelly Young.

“Right Tree, Right Place” guidelines on the AES website say a tree that can grow up to 40 feet tall should be planted at least 50 feet away from power lines. Trees that can grow up to 25 feet tall, the guidelines say, should be at least 10 feet away.

“AES needs 15 feet of clearance below and to the sides of the lines as well,” Young said.

Maintaining proper placement of trees and branches in neighborhoods can help minimize power outages when winds reach 30 to 50 miles per hour. Crews also respond with emergency trimming and cutting of trees that are damaged in storms. 

As a matter of safety, AES asks homeowners to keep an eye on trees on their properties, but leave the trimming to professionals. Even if a property isn’t scheduled for regular trimming, an owner can report a dangerous tree any time of year by calling the AES at (317) 261-8111.

“Homeowners are more familiar with their property, more familiar with their trees,” Young said. “We can get out there, we can work together to make sure that we’re keeping those lines safe and neighbors and neighborhoods safe as well.”

“We do work with our teams to make sure we’re doing the best to keep the integrity and beauty of the tree while also making sure that we’re trimming them safely away from the power lines,” Young continued.

Homeowners who do not want their trees trimmed must alert AES two weeks before work is scheduled to take place. Even then, utility officials said they do not recommend homeowners refuse the trimming.

“Failure to grant AES Indiana permission to prune trees may put you at risk for liability issues due to outages caused by your trees,” the AES website says.

“I’m fine with it as long as they keep these lights on,” Carroll said. 

As always, AES officials said they urge homeowners to avoid any power lines that have been knocked down in a storm. Safety tips and recommendations can be found here on the AES website, and the company also has recommendations for maintaining trees on your property.

In addition, AES is planning to celebrate Arbor Day on April 29 by giving away 800 trees on Monument Circle. Information on that event can be found here.