INDIANAPOLIS — It's an ongoing problem for two Indianapolis homeowners, after they said a utility company left behind a huge mess and claims they were not at fault.
One woman reached out to WRTV, just months after trying to get the issue corrected with AES. She explained the company came to cut down a tree so it wouldn't fall on the power lines, leaving the debris from that tree in her yard on top of damaging a fence separating her yard from her neighbors.
Tracy Drane explained it was a perfect, sunny day when the utility company came to her house and told her they needed to take a tree down. She said when she got back, she found her yard in shambles.
"I was wondering what they did with the privacy fence. I thought they may be slid it to the side or something and once I came out here and got to looking, I'm like, oh, it's down underneath all this rubbish,” Drane said.
It was a frustrating eyesore for neighbors Drane and Jordan Bunch.
“I don't remember hearing it falling because I was home the whole day," Bunch said. "I just remember they came here to cut it down; the power went off for four hours and they just left everything."
Both Drane and Bunch immediately started calling and emailing AES, but they said they were hit with more excuses than solutions.
“I finally got a letter from a lady named Annette. She sends me a letter saying that the damage was due to storm-related and that I needed to turn it into my homeowners' insurance. And I'm like no it wasn't due to storm-related, your company was back here and they took this down and left it there,” Drane said.
When WRTV reached out to AES about the matter, we received a statement that explained how AES sent a crew out after a storm on March 16, "To restore power due to damage caused when a tree fell on AES Indiana equipment, causing an outage and damaging a section of fence. Vegetation crews cut and removed the tree from our equipment, allowing for safe restoration of power."
The statement from AES goes on to say in part, "In emergency situations involving tree trimming, AES Indiana does not clear away the debris."
"I'm out here in my backyard all the time. I try to keep it looking nice, I like entertaining, and for people to come and see that, it's annoying and it's frustrating and I'm like, they need to do something about it,” Drane said.
Drane said it's all about taking responsibility and making this right.
AES said it “Does not clear away the debris, and clean-up is the customer's responsibility, which may be covered by insurance.”
Read AES full statement below:
Safety and maintaining our customers reliability will always remain among AES Indiana’s top priorities.
On March 16 of this year, a storm passed through our AES Indiana service territory affecting approximately 20,000 customers due to strong winds.
Crews were dispatched to the area in question during the storm to restore power due to damage caused when a tree fell on AES Indiana equipment, causing an outage and damaging a section of fence. Vegetation crews cut and removed the tree from our equipment, allowing for safe restoration of power.
AES Indiana responded to this specific customer inquiry on June 7 when a damage claim was filed. We responded to the customer notifying her that in emergency situations involving tree trimming, AES Indiana does not clear away the debris. Emergency trimming situations include storm related outages, any time there is tree-to-equipment contact or where trees are close enough to equipment that an outage is highly likely.
Due to the emergent nature of the trimming during storm restoration, clean-up is the customer’s responsibility. AES Indiana recommends that customers contact their insurance company to see if they will cover the cost of hiring a clean-up crew.