The state Public Service Commission wants to see comprehensive plans from the electric utility companies in the Mountain State when it comes to keeping their rights of way clear of vegetation and trees.

The PSC issued an order Wednesday that gives the power companies six months to submit their plans.

“They have to file a petition proposing a comprehensive vegetation tree-trimming program to maintain all of their rights of way over a proposed period of time,” PSC spokesperson Susan Small said.

The order comes as part of the PSC’s investigation that it launched following the June 29 derecho that put most state residents without power for several days, some for more than two weeks.

Residents have complained power companies aren’t consistent when it comes to keeping trees trimmed close to their distribution and transmission lines. The companies say the derecho knocked down trees that were not even part of their rights of way.

Small says electric utilities have kind of been on their own when it comes to line clearing programs.

“We’re asking to see what their plans are for the next several years,” Small said. “How it is that they are going to go about treating all of their properties, all of their lines, on a regular maintenance schedule rather than hit and miss.”

The order also requires the companies to submit a way to pay for the additional tree trimming including possible rate increases.

Small says it’s too early to say what may be proposed.

“We’ll just have to see what comes out of the petitions that the companies will be filing with us,” she said. “This is not a closed issue. This is something the commission plans to keep a very active hand in.”

Small says vegetation clearing is not the magic bullet but it’s a piece of the puzzle.

“This won’t prevent outages, this won’t prevent storms from coming through, but when it does happen the commission wants to know everything has been taken care of in advance to get the lights back on as soon as possible,” Small said.

 

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Comments

  • John

    The road I live on has had trees leaning on the power lines since I moved there 18 years ago. They do nothing to keep the lines clear and that is why there are so many outages. This representative of AEP thinks the PSC's plan will help because they have no plan in place? Uh, they should have had a plan in place long before the government stepped in. And, why did it take the government so long to ask what the problem is? If "Reagan trickle down economics" was at work in this situation, I would have a choice of who to buy my power from. I guess GregC likes the "government trickle down" economics that pays people to sit on their backsides. I like the idea that if I earn it, I keep it and spend and give how I choose.

  • GregG

    Now a poor little company like AEP can't afford to have a full time right-of-way crew on the payroll. They have to use that money to pay their CEO's multi-millon dollar salaries and benefits plus give them million dollar bonuses every year. It's that Reagan "trickle down" economic plan, and gee is it ever working. Just look at our wonderful economy.

  • Larry

    Recently contacted AEP about a tree on my property and they sent a representative out. He left a note stating the tree wasn't posing a threat at this time. I called back and told them I would cut the tree if AEP would put their line on the ground. AEP wouldn't do that either. If I cut the tree it will tear their line down. Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

  • bulldog95

    Rate increases, what a crock. How about they contact some logging companies and have them go out and clear the areas and let the logging industry keep the wood. If that doesnt work because the wood isnt ideal, they should put out the word to some of the good ole boys that sell firewood. Have someone supervise the cutting and let those people haul off the firewood to do with as they wish. This wouldnt cost the utilities much at all.

  • David

    Their plans are to do nothing. Then, when a storm hits and the lines are down, ask for a rate increase that resulted from repairing them.