IURC Tree Trimming Order (Part 4)

‘The Commission finds that debris associated with routine maintenance, in a maintained area, should be removed in a timely manner. Generally, absent intervening inclement weather that may pull crews from maintenance activities, it is reasonable to expect normal maintenance trimming debris will be promptly removed within three calendar days. … The Commission views standard trimming practices differently from restoration of service following storm damage. Utilities, and ultimately ratepayers, should not have to pay for the cost of vegetation removal necessitated by storm damage. … Accordingly, we find that it is not appropriate to require the removal of storm-related debris. It is reasonable for the property owners to remain responsible for such debris and for utilities to remain responsible for debris resulting only from routine vegetation management.” (pages 104-105)

“We find that utilities shall file a separate report by March 31, under this Cause, which outlines the utility’s vegetation management budget and actual expenditures for the prior calendar year; the number of customer complaints related to tree trimming and the manner in which those complaints were addressed or resolved; and the tree-related outages as a percentage of total outages. Utilities shall also file their VMP with the Commission, and any changes to that plan going forward.” (page 107)

“Rulemaking. As discussed above, the Commission finds that customer education, notification, tree replacement, and dispute resolution are all issues that would benefit from a Commission rulemaking. Initially, the Commission finds that the rulemaking shall be applicable to electric investor-owned utilities (“IOUs”), which provide electric service to a majority of Indiana customers. While we would encourage municipal and REMC utilities to participate in the rulemaking, we are cognizant of the cost concerns related to these smaller utilities, and further note that the REMCs and municipal utilities are structured in a manner that provides additional opportunities for customers to interact and voice concerns with those utilities not generally available from an electric IOU. The Commission will work closely with the Utility Consumer Counselor, the public, and the utilities to craft rules that are fair, reasonable and in the public interest. The Commission strongly encourages active public participation. The end result of the rulemaking should be the development of a code of conduct tailored for each utility similar to that which IPL has endeavored to create through Project Cooperation.” (page 110)

(Part 4 of 4.)

IURC Order

https://www.indianabusinesslawyerblog.com/IURC_Tree_Trimming_Order.pdf

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