Vegetation Management Program

Brewing coffee. Charging a cell phone. Watching a television show. Many daily activities require a safe and reliable supply of electricity. One approach to ensure reliable service involves controlling the growth of trees and other vegetation in transmission rights-of-way, the sections of land where transmission power lines are located.

AEP Transmission's vegetation management program helps balance the need for reliable service with respect for the natural environment. The company uses contract forestry crews to complete vegetation management work.

Goals of the program:

  • Provide electric power to customers safely
  • Protect the electric grid and reduce power outages
  • Minimize negative impacts to the environment
  • Comply with federal, state and local regulations
  • Work safely and efficiently
  • Foster positive relationships with customers and communities

What's the Difference: Transmission Versus Distribution?

Transmission lines are high-voltage and extra-high voltage lines that carry electricity from power plants to substations, which reduce the voltage for delivery to customers on distribution lines. The process and requirements for clearing and maintaining vegetation differ around transmission and distribution lines.

Did You Know?

  • Many power outages are caused by trees and other vegetation making contact with power lines.
  • Some vegetation such as Honeysuckle, Bradford Pears and Autumn Olive are invasive species and are not allowed within the power line easement area.

General Practices

Public Safety

Property owners should never trim or remove tree limbs near power lines. Trained vegetation management crews know how to complete this work.

Tree Removal/Trimming

Crews can remove trees and other woody-stemmed plants to control vegetation growth over the long term. Crews may also trim trees using any of the following methods based on an area's terrain, accessibility and other factors:

Vegetation Clearing

Crews use manual or mechanical equipment during routine maintenance to clear woody-stemmed vegetation within and along rights-of-way.


Herbicides help control the root systems of woody-stemmed vegetation. Licensed applicators use herbicides registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the appropriate state regulatory agency.


Crews may keep vegetation debris on the right-of-way to decompose naturally in unmaintained areas. This process returns nutrients to the soil and reduces the possibility of soil erosion.

Working with Property Owners

Maintaining clear rights-of-way ensures the electrical grid's reliability for customers while keeping the public and power line crews safe. Company representatives work with property owners to communicate upcoming work, discuss clearing practices and address concerns prior to conducting work.

Tips To Stay Safe and Prevent Outages:

  • Contact the company if you notice trees or tall brush growing in a power line right-of-way.
  • Speak with company representatives to identify plants that are safe to place in the right-of-way.
  • Limit activities in the right-of-way to compatible uses such as gardening and farming that do not interfere with the safe operation of electric facilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Do Federal Requirements Exist For Vegetation Management?

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) created standards that require utilities to establish minimum clearance distances between transmission lines and the nearest vegetation. Non-compliance can lead to significant penalties for utilities.

How Does AEP Adhere to the Requirements?

Crews remove trees and woody-stemmed vegetation within transmission rights-of-way. The extent of vegetation clearing depends on the voltage of the transmission line, the type of transmission structures, terrain and other factors.

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