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Spring into safety with Ameren Illinois, always call JULIE before you dig
Plant the right tree in the right place

Spring has sprung, which has many people thinking about planting trees and shrubs to beautify their homes, benefit the environment and help conserve energy.

Others are planning to build decks, install decorative lighting, put on home additions or do other work that requires excavation.

Before digging for any purpose, property owners and contractors must call JULIE at “811” at least two business days before they plan to dig. JULIE will make certain all utility lines are marked so property owners can dig safely. Digging without calling JULIE can result in disrupted utility service to an entire neighborhood, lead to injuries and result in repair costs and possible fines. There is no charge for JULIE utility locating services.

When it comes to trees and shrubs, Ameren Illinois urges property owners to do some planning to make certain they get the right tree in the right place.

“Too often, people plant trees without understanding the problems that may occur when they plant tall-growing trees near power lines or trees that are fast-growing but structurally weak and short-lived,” said Steve Moody, Ameren Illinois managing supervisor of Construction Services.

When tall trees are too close to electrical power lines, strong winds, wet snow and ice storms can cause tree limbs and even entire trees to fall into those power lines. The result can be extensive and lengthy power outages, as well as safety hazards posed by downed electrical lines.

Furthermore, tall trees growing near electrical lines must be trimmed frequently to minimize the threat such trees pose to reliable electrical service. Ameren Illinois tree trimming crews follow the standards and methods endorsed by the International Society of Arboriculture.

“We encourage our customers to plant trees and shrubs for a variety of reasons. The environmental and beautification benefits of trees and shrubs are well-known. In addition, trees actually can help keep homes cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, thus reducing a homeowner’s energy costs,” Moody said.

Moody offered these tree planning and planting tips:

  • Do not plant poplars, black locust, silver maples and other fast-growing trees.
  • Plant shrubs within 15 feet of electric distribution lines. Shrubs that do well in Illinois include forsythia, lilac, mock orange, burning bush and viburnum.
  • Small trees that have a mature height of up to 25 feet may be planted 15 to 25 feet from electric distribution lines. Examples include redbud, hawthorn, flowering dogwood and Amur maple.
  • Medium trees have a mature height of 25 to 45 feet and may be planted 35 to 45 feet from distribution lines. Examples include American hornbeam, juniper, red pine and sassafras.
  • Large trees that grow 45 feet and taller should be planted at least 45 feet away from distribution lines. A few examples include sugar maple, bur oak, red oak, Norway spruce and yellow poplar (tuliptree).

Moody advised property owners to consult with a nursery, an arborist or the University of Illinois Extension Service for more detailed information on selecting the right trees and shrubs. Additional information also is available at MySafeTrees.com.

Ameren is recognized by the National Arbor Day Foundation as a “Tree Line USA” utility. This designation is awarded to utilities that properly train their tree trimming workers and assist customers in selecting appropriate trees to plant near electrical wires.

Ameren Illinois delivers energy to 1.2 million electric and 806,000 natural gas customers in downstate Illinois, and our mission is to meet their energy needs in a safe, reliable, efficient and environmentally responsible manner. Our service area covers more than 1,200 communities and 43,700 square miles. For more information, visit AmerenIllinois.com.


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CONTACT: Leigh Morris, 217.535.5228, lmorris@ameren.com; Stacey Stockton-Shangraw, 309-677-5073, sstockton-shangraw@ameren.com