To help prevent service interruptions and enhance system reliability, Pennsylvania Electric Co. continues tree trimming work in communities across its 31-county service area in Pennsylvania, including a special program to remove ash trees damaged by the emerald ash borer near power lines.
The ash tree removal work is budgeted at more than $3.8 million and is part of Penelec's $27 million vegetation management spend for 2015. Since the beginning of the year, Penelec tree contractors have trimmed nearly 1,800 circuit miles of electric lines, with an additional 2,000 miles expected to be completed by year end.
In addition, more than 15,000 affected ash trees have been removed year-to-date. Over the next four years, Penelec's ash tree removal program ultimately will cover about 18,000 miles of power line rights-of-way, with the expected removal of more than 200,000 dead or diseased ash trees due to the emerald ash borer infestation.
"Throughout our service area, more trees near power lines are succumbing to damage from the ash borer, posing an ongoing risk to our electrical infrastructure," said Scott Wyman, president of Penelec. "To enhance reliability, we are taking a proactive approach to target and aggressively remove dead ash trees before they can disrupt service to our customers."
During the next several months, Penelec will be conducting tree trimming in the following locations: Martinsburg, Hollidaysburg, Loretto, Nanty Glo, Revloc, Claysburg, Osterburg, Mahaffey, Hepburnia, Curwensville, Madera, Flinton, Coalport, Prince Gallitzin, Glasgow, Erie, Girard, Albion, McKean, Marienville, Titusville, Cochranton, Millcreek, Oil City, Holsopple, Davidsville, Jerome, Thomasville, Huntingdon, Shippensburg, Russell, Sugar Grove, Port Allegany, Union City, Wyalusing, Galeton, Westfield, New Milford, Susquehanna, Oakland, and Grover.
The tree trimming work is done to ensure proper clearances are maintained around electric circuits and equipment and to help reduce tree-related outages, particularly during severe weather. Vegetation is inspected and trees are pruned in a manner that helps maintain the health of the tree, while also maintaining safe and reliable electric service for customers. In some cases, trees that are considered to present a danger or are diseased may be removed.
As part of its notification process, Penelec works with municipalities to inform them of tree trimming schedules. In addition, customers living in areas along company rights-of-way are notified prior to vegetation management work being done.
All tree trimming work is conducted by Penelec's certified forestry contractors, including: Asplundh Tree Expert Company, Davey Tree Expert Company, Lewis Tree Service Inc., Penn Line Service, Townsend Tree Service, and Treesmiths Inc.
For 17 consecutive years, FirstEnergy, on behalf of its 10 utility companies, including Penelec, has been recognized as a Tree Line USA utility by the National Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters. The award recognizes utility companies that promote the dual goals of dependable utility service and abundant, healthy trees along America's streets and highways. Award-winning companies demonstrate excellence in tree care, training and public education.