AEC Tree Trimming Policies and Rights-of-way Procedures

AEC's Vegetation Management Policy

Benefits of Rights-of-way management by AEC:

  • Lower line clearance costs resulting from proper pruning.
  • Improved rights-of-way management as a result of "right tree, right place" plantings
  • Increased public exposure by meeting Tree Line USA requirements, resulting in community tree planting and public education
  • Lower peak energy demand through increased canopy and better placement of trees
  • Increased reliability of service because properly pruned and maintained trees with healthy root systems will mean less decay and structural weakness, and fewer downed lines during storms
  • Collaborative urban forest management opportunities between AEC and other groups that impact community trees
  • More trees will help absorb carbon dioxide produced by power plants that burn fossil fuels

AEC is a Tree Line USA Utility, a distinction the Co-op has earned for 16 consecutive years.

Every day in communities all across America, people depend on safe, reliable electric service to power their homes, businesses, and public buildings – all while protecting and enhancing the urban forest.

The TreeLine USA® program exists to recognize best practices in public and private utility arboriculture, demonstrating how trees and utilities can co-exist for the benefit of communities and citizens.

The Arbor Day Foundation collaborates with the National Association of State Foresters on this initiative. These state foresters bring expertise in balancing the demands of expanding utility needs in our communities alongside the benefits of providing adequate care for our urban forests.

Five Core Standards

  1. Quality Tree Care — Industry standards for pruning, planting, removals, trenching, and tunneling near trees are consistently followed..
  2. Annual Worker Training — Utility employees and contract workers are trained at least annually in best practices.
  3. Tree Planting and Public Education — Tree planting and public education programs are available to the public and paying customers, demonstrating proper tree planting, placement, and pruning while expanding the tree canopy in the community.
  4. Tree-Based Energy Conservation Program — A formal tree-based energy conservation program is in place, putting special consideration on the value of trees in conserving energy.
  5. Arbor Day Celebration — Sponsorship of or participation in annual Arbor Day events at the community level are documented, including collaboration with community groups whenever possible.



Lateral Pruning

The old method of tree topping is no longer recommended by horticulturists and other professionals in the field, such as the National Arbor Day Foundation, The International Society of Arboriculture, and the National Arborist Association. Tree topping or “rounding over” can lead to decay, disease, insects, fungi, and may threaten the life of the tree. Weakened trees are more likely to break during wind, ice, and snow storms.

Lateral, or natural trimming is the method used by line crews in most utilities. Lateral trimming is utilized by AEC. The name “lateral” is derived from the method of cutting branches back to natural strong points on the tree, such as the juncture of the trunk and major limbs. Re-growth occurs with lateral trimming; however, branches tend to grow away from power lines and profuse sprouting of new limbs into power lines is avoided.