Fallen trees and branches are one of the most common causes of power outages. That’s why keeping our lines and equipment free of trees is one of our top priorities.

With a job that keeps her moving and is always changing, we recently caught up with Sarah Powell, an AEP Ohio forester, to talk about a typical — or not so typical — day in the life of a forester.

Gearing up for the day

I start each work day at 7 a.m. with a cup of coffee in hand. I spend my mornings checking my email for any forestry-related requests that may have come through overnight. Once a week, we start the day with a forestry team safety conference call where we go over any issues that need to be addressed. This call ensures timely and quality work for our AEP Ohio customers.

Coordinating customer work and connecting with communities

I spend a lot of time working with different departments at AEP Ohio to make sure forestry work is done safely and on time, as well as checking on the daily progress of our crews.  

I also stay in close contact with city leaders to let them know when we’re planning to trim trees in their community. At least every four years, our customers may see our crews in their neighborhood checking the trees around our lines and equipment and trimming back or removing any hazards. We use our expertise to spot and remove limbs and trees that pose a threat to your electric service or safety. It’s all about being proactive and keeping our lines and equipment free of trees before they become a problem.

Out and about

Most days I’m out at worksites connecting with our tree crews to resolve any questions and making sure they are safe. Our work planners do the initial work of communicating with homeowners that we’ll be trimming their trees, but when customers have additional questions I’m here to work with them and help them understand the importance of what we do to keep the lights on. 

Safety above all else

When I’m at a worksite, I use an app to help me perform safety audits — making sure our contractors are safe is one of the most important things I do. Tree trimming is a dangerous job with many hazards — chainsaws, heights, energized electrical equipment, etc. We want to make sure everyone goes home safe at the end of the day.

Ready to roll with the punches

Sometimes my entire day can be derailed by bad weather. When a storm hits, I work with our dispatch team to coordinate tree crews to help clear the way for lineworkers to safely restore power. 

Every day as a forester is different. Sometimes I end my day in the office or out in the field visiting with tree crews and customers. The variety is what keeps my job interesting. 

Want to learn more?

The work our forestry team does helps provide safe, reliable electric service, while keeping in mind the health and beauty of the trees in your community. You can learn more about our work at AEPOhio.com/Trees.  

9 responses to “A Day in the Life of a Forester

  1. It is unfortunate that AEP only will have the Foresters trim the very minimum any more. I have always made sure that trees and any other landscaping for our yard is not planted where it will interfere with neighbors or electric lines. Never should trees be planted in the utility set back. Unfortunately others plant trees on the setback and allow them to grow without any maintenance. AEP could make everyone’s life simplistic by taking down these trees or at least taking the major interfering branches down. But they do the very minimum and only the very small superficial branches. If the larger ones were taken down they would not have to keep coming back. The Forestry Division has been not been concerned with issues expressed. There are safety hazards that can result due to their lack of concern about trees in the utility set back area.

  2. I spent several years a long time ago working for ASPLUNDH TREE CO. doing line clearance work. I have an appreciation for the work that AEP and contractors do.

  3. These are wonderful, good information.
    A huge thank you to AEP and all the people that work for them. Thank you for keeping us seeing the light!!!

  4. I wish the trimmers would sanitize their saws between trees. If they cut into a diseased tree, and don’t take precautions, they pass the disease to the next tree they trim.

    1. Hi Margaret, thanks for your note. Unfortunately, it just isn’t feasible to sanitize every saw between each tree. But we do take precautions to avoid spreading diseases between trees, such as not trimming oak trees during growing season and applying latex spray paint on cuts to oak trees if we do trim during their growing season. If you have questions about our process please send us an email at aepohioforestry@aep.com.

  5. Just had a maple tree trimmed under a Three phase line. Asphund crew did a fantastic job. The crew was friendly and courteous and picked up branches and cleaned up area. Very fine work AEP!

  6. I have seen your guys working to keep trees as bay. One only has to watch the news to see what can happen by not managing the lines to see that they are not damaged by falling limbs. Good example is in California what massive black-outs are occurring because of neglect of maintaining the power lines to be out of falling limbs or are so close that power jumps to the tree(s) starting fires. Good job.

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