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MonPower continues tree-trimming program along distribution lines

(WTAP)
Published: May. 10, 2018 at 2:52 PM EDT
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Mon Power is continuing its enhanced tree-trimming program designed to help improve service reliability.

The work helps maintain proper clearances around electrical equipment, which can reduce the frequency and duration of power outages, especially those associated with severe weather such as the numerous storms experienced this past winter.

Since the beginning of the 2018, contractors have trimmed more than 1,000 miles of distribution and transmission lines in the Mon Power area as part of the company's approximately $71 million vegetation-management program for 2018. An additional 3,500 miles are expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Launched in mid-2014, the program focuses on trimming trees near distribution lines in rural areas and along transmission lines to enhance service reliability. The program helps reduce the risk of overhanging limbs getting into electrical equipment and causing outages.

Mon Power's tree program in 2018 includes about $2 million to proactively remove more than 7,000 deteriorated ash trees damaged by the emerald ash borer along larger distribution lines and lines located near electric substations.

"Four years into our enhanced vegetation management program, our customers are experiencing fewer tree-related outages as we have trimmed more than 2 million trees along more than 16,000 miles of electric lines to the new ground-to-sky standards," said Holly Kauffman, president of FirstEnergy's West Virginia Operations. "We continue to see immediate results in the areas where we trim to the new specifications. On average, we see a 34 percent reduction in the number of tree-related outage minutes for our customers the year after we perform our work."

The initial cycle length for tree work under the enhanced program is five years, ending in 2019. From that point forward, trees will be trimmed on a four-year cycle.

Mon Power will conduct tree trimming in or near the following Mid-Ohio Valley counties and communities before the end of the year: Pleasants – St. Marys; Ritchie – Smithville; Roane – Peniel, Spencer; Wirt – Elizabeth; and Wood – Cedar Grove, Davisville, Kanawha, Larkmead, Lubeck, Nicolette, Parkersburg, Waverly and Williamstown

Forestry crews use hand-operated tools, saws, mowers, aerial helicopter saws and EPA-approved herbicide applications to trim trees and maintain vegetation along FirstEnergy's distribution and transmission networks.

Clearing incompatible vegetation under power lines results in easier access for company personnel to inspect and maintain lines and make repairs sooner if an outage occurs.

Mon Power serves about 385,000 customers in 34 West Virginia counties.