MARYVILLE, Ill. – Spring weather frequently brings powerful and dangerous storms. Trees fall on power lines and people can lose electricity for several days.
Ameren Illinois has created a program called “Right Tree. Right Space.” to prevent these yearly problems.
The utility strongly encourages folks not to plant trees under or near power lines. A beautiful tree planted today could turn into a nightmare many years from now.
It’s not difficult to find tree limbs growing around electric lines, especially in older neighborhoods.
Ruth Frizzell has seen it in her neighborhood.
“We’re seeing a lot of large trees being cut down for fear a of spring storms,” she said.
Before you’re forced to pay to remove them, don’t plant them. Falling trees and limbs are responsible for many power outages across Illinois every year.
“This past year in 2020, we had approximately 100,000 tree-caused outages that were beyond my control,” Rick Johnson, vegetation management with Ameren Illinois, said. “They were wind blow, tornado, straight-line winds.”
The storms create tough times in the summer or winter. Homeowner Chris Deem said he remembered a brutal ice storm from about 15 years ago.
“It lasted several days before people got their power back,” he said. “We were without power for four or five days.”
All those repairs cost Ameren money, which you end up paying for in your utility bill.
“Ultimately, it would save the customer money in the long run if they didn’t plant the tree in our right of way,” Johnson said.
He estimated more than half of last year’s power outages were the result of homeowners planting trees under or near powerlines. He also warned people with ash trees to be careful. If the emerald ash beetle is killing your tree, take it down quickly! Once it’s dead, that tree can fall over much faster that other dying trees.
And finally, don’t only look up before you plant also look down, Johnson said, call 811 before you dig.
“To make sure there are no cables, gas lines, or utilities underground; because if you dig, you could get seriously injured,” he said.