West Penn Power, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., continues to conduct tree trimming work in communities across its 24-county Pennsylvania service area as part of its ongoing efforts to help enhance service reliability.
The work helps to 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 year, tree contractors have trimmed more than 1200 circuit miles of electric lines in the West Penn Power service area as part of the nearly $48.6 million vegetation management program for 2018, with an additional 3,900 miles expected to be completed by year end.
"The tree trimming we have done over the past several years is making a positive difference in keeping the lights on for our customers and restoring service in the wake of severe weather," said David W. McDonald, president of West Penn Power. "We have ramped up our efforts to proactively remove tens of thousands of deteriorated ash trees bordering our electric distribution lines that have been affected by the Emerald Ash Borer. Harsh winter storms further damaged these trees, and we want to remove as many as possible to protect our system before summer thunderstorms arrive."
West Penn Power's tree program in 2018 includes about $7.5 million to remove more than 68,000 ash trees along distribution lines in western Pennsylvania. As of early April, more than 13,000 ash trees had been removed.
Tree trimming is done on a five-year cycle. The program includes inspecting vegetation near the lines to ensure trees are pruned in a manner that helps preserve the health of the tree, while also maintaining safety near electric facilities. Trees that present a danger or are diseased also may be removed.
As part of its notification process, West Penn Power works with municipalities to inform them of tree trimming schedules. In addition, customers living in areas along company rights-of-way also are notified prior to vegetation management work being done.
The vegetation management work is conducted by certified forestry experts under the company's direction, including: Asplundh Tree Expert Company, Jaflo Inc., Lewis Tree Service Inc., Penn Line Service Inc., and Davey Tree Expert Company.