IPL vs. trees? 

As part of an investigation, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) will hold a series of public field hearings throughout the state to accept sworn consumer comments concerning tree trimming practices by some of the state's electric utilities.

Indianapolis Power & Light Company is facing heavy criticism from some residents over its tree trimming practices. A complaint filed by Charles Goodman in March of last year stemmed from an incident in which Goodman was told by an IPL supervisor that a tree on his property near some power lines was not going to be trimmed. Goodman returned home to find "half his tree on the ground".

Consternation over some of IPL's trimming practices is widespread. As a result of Goodman's complaint and his ensuing actions as a citizen lobbyist the IURC launched the investigation of electric utility tree trimming and vegetation management practices.

Goodman also launched www.treesvspowerlines.com with fellow activist Jerry Baker to outline some of their viewpoints and goals.

According to Goodman, the heart of the problem lies with the IPL tariff which includes language that allows the company to take many liberties when it comes to pruning trees away from power lines. He claims the tariff is unconstitutional because it does not respect property rights.

The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor has already filed testimony in the case, recommending utility compliance with nationally established procedures for vegetation management, standardized guidelines for providing notice to property owners before trimming and generally enhancing customer awareness of trimming procedures.

Goodman claims that IPL is a company that "misleads people, bullies people and effectively lies to people."

Crystal Livers-Powers, Director of Corporate Communications for IPL could not be reached for comment.

In spite of taking heat for excessive tree trimming, the IPL website espouses their environmental stewardship. The site points to programs such as "Trees for Tomorrow", a partnership with Indy Parks and Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, which has planted 13,000 trees since 1990. Also noted is that IPL provided funds for a "Neighborwoods" program launched in 2006 that seeks to eventually plant 100,000 trees. "Neighborwoods" was launched and is managed by Keep Indianapolis Beautiful.

The public meetings to be held throughout the state are as follows: Muncie, August 31 in the Muncie High School Auditorium-5:30 pm; Indianapolis, Sept. 2, Pike High School, Pike Performing Arts Center-5:30 pm; Seymour, Sept. 8, Seymour High School-5:30 pm; Merrillville, Sept. 23; Fort Wayne, September 29; Evansville, Oct. 7. The final three meetings are tentatively scheduled with times and locations to be determined.

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