Duke Energy was in my yard trimming trees near their power lines. Am I obligated to let them on my property?

According to Duke Energy, there are a variety of Vegetation Management (VM) projects that could occur on or adjacent to a customer’s property at any time, for example routine maintenance, hazardous tree removal, herbicide treatment, outage restoration or VM work for line construction. All of these projects could require different work on a customer’s property. The best way for a customer to know what to expect is to speak with the Duke Energy VM contractor representative that will be performing the work at the customer’s property.

All of these projects could require different work on a customer’s property.

Here are the basics:

Properties across the city of Carmel have various “right of way” easements or agreements that grant a utility the right to use, access or transit a piece of property. This easement is typically granted by property owners to an electric utility for the purpose of building, operating and maintaining power lines and other equipment. Before a power line is built, the Duke acquires easements from property owners along the selected route as necessary.

Easement rights include managing trees and other vegetation, either inside or outside the easement, that pose a threat to the reliability of the electric system. Easement rights also include keeping the right of way free and clear of encroachments and obstructions.

After a tree is pruned in landscaped and maintained areas – such as yards, turf and paved areas – small limbs and branches (6” or less in diameter) are taken away. If debris must be left overnight for some unforeseen reason, affected customers and residents are notified.

However, for debris that cannot be hauled away (for example debris that is too large, metal embedded in wood, etc.) the debris is cut to the length of firewood and stacked or consolidated at the edge of the right of way or at the base of the tree for the property owner’s use or disposal.

Also, after a heavy storm, Duke’s policy is that they will not clean up tree debris that results from severe weather. When they respond to outages, their priority is to safely clear trees from power lines and equipment to restore power as safely and quickly as possible. Once power is restored, property owners are responsible for any tree debris.

Read more details here.

Authored by Laura Campbell, Sue Finkam, Kevin Rider, Jeff Worrell, Sue Finkam, Bruce Kimball, Miles Nelson, Anthony Green and Adam Aasen.