Met Ed Aerial Saw 2

Potomac Edison Using Aerial Saw to Trim Trees in Rural Areas

Oct. 10, 2022
Work includes trimming along more than 180 miles of high-voltage power lines in Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia.

Potomac Edison, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., is using a helicopter equipped with an aerial saw to trim trees and maintain proper clearances along 17 difficult-to-access transmission line corridors in Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia. The work will help keep power flowing to customers by reducing the frequency and duration of tree-related power outages, especially those associated with severe weather.

"Taking this step to safeguard our high-voltage power lines is one of the most effective ways to enhance service reliability for our customers," said Linda Moss, president of FirstEnergy's Maryland operations. "Our work is paying off. In 2021, the amount of time Potomac Edison customers experienced service interruptions due to trees dropped by 20% compared to 2019."

Suspended on a boom beneath the helicopter and equipped with multiple 24-inch rotary blades, the aerial saw is typically deployed along transmission lines in areas that are environmentally sensitive or inaccessible to bucket trucks and other vehicles. This fast, safe and efficient method of trimming typically covers more area in a day than a ground crew might complete in a week. The saw also eliminates the risk of injury to workers using bucket trucks or climbing trees to cut limbs near high voltage equipment.

The saw cleanly cuts tree limbs 8 to 10 inches in diameter, which fall straight to the ground propelled by air blasts from the helicopter rotors. Ground crews will move limbs that may fall onto roadways, yards, agricultural fields or in streams into adjacent wooded areas. The ground crew will also flag and stop motorists along roads if the helicopter saw is working nearby.

The helicopter trimming trees is an MD 500 owned and operated by Aerial Solutions. The aerial saw will trim trees along 182 miles of transmission lines in Berkeley, Grant, Hampshire, Hardy, Jefferson and Morgan counties in West Virginia; Frederick, Garrett and Washington counties in Maryland; and Frederick and Page counties in Virginia. The work is expected to conclude in October.

The helicopter flies above and alongside transmission lines and may circle around to perform additional trimming. The pilot communicates with local airport personnel whenever the helicopter is operating within their air space.

On the ground, Potomac Edison will clear vegetation along approximately 3100 miles of distribution power lines in its Maryland and West Virginia service area this year as part of its US$ 33 million vegetation management program.

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