CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Public Service Commission gave approval Tuesday to Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power companies to begin a new comprehensive right-of-way vegetation management plan.

There were complaints too numerous to count against electric utility companies in West Virginia concerning tree trimming in the days after the Derecho and Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The companies were blamed for not having their rights-of-way cleared. The PSC ordered each company to submit a comprehensive plan. The commission has approved plans for four smaller companies in recent months and announced the approval of the American Electric Power (Appalachian Power, Wheeling Power) plan Tuesday.

PSC spokesman Susan Small said this will be different than what companies have done in the past.

“They will go through their entire territory and systematically trim the trees and vegetation so that they’re not in the way of the power lines,” she said. “This is a way to minimize any impact during a major storm.”

Small called it a comprehensive end-to-end, time cycle based right-of-way vegetation management plan. She said the PSC had to look differently at line clearing plans after the 2009 blizzard and the 2012 storms.

“It just isn’t acceptable to have people without power for five days, eight days, 14 days,” she said. “So hopefully this is a proactive approach to keeping the lights on.”

The PSC also ruled it would allow both Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power to recover the cost of the program through their rates. There’s no word yet on what that will cost individual customers.

“The commission has said it will be rolled into their next rate case, which they have recently filed. But they want the company to get to work, cutting back trees, cutting back vegetation right-of-way,” she said.

The vegetation management plan for the FirstEnergy companies Mon Power and Potomac Edison is still pending before the PSC.

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  • joe smith

    Does this mean they have authority to remove vegetation that is not on the right of way? With 100' tall trees on the outside edge of a 100' ROW, the math doesn't work.

  • David Kennedy

    It has been my understanding that Federal EPA Guidelines prevented a wider right-of -way cut for the power lines.
    This narrowing of cutting areas has caused the trees and limbs of trees to damage and destroy the power lines for about 20 years.
    Why was this not mentioned in this news article?
    It's been the 'Tree-huggers and EPA Kooks who have caused our power outages for a long time.
    Can the power company send them a bill for the costs they have caused in the past 20 years? It's been the public consumers who have paid the costs for their insanity..

  • ExR=I

    Here's a novel idea-- PUT THE DAMN LINES UNDERGROUND. Not only are they just an eye-sore they are poorly maintained and appear to be of poor construction quality. We have to be the last metropolitan on Earth that still allows power lines to be ran from neighborhood to neighborhood and house to house.

    • No

      That will never happen, except in small areas, the cost of building underground vs overhead is far, far more. Plus, in urban areas, you will always need poles for streetlights, might as well have wire on them too. Underground lines also experience outages, albeit from different causes, but many times it takes longer to find and repair the problems on them.

  • jfk

    lets all just get ready to bend over

  • Sick & Tired

    We get the windshield again.The corps and CEO' s get the raises. I just wonder how much kick back the P S C gets.They absolutely have to be getting something.

  • john

    The first thing they speak of is a rate increase. The job of keeping trees and limbs cut back away the lines should be included in their operational budget anyway, since they profit in the millions each year. Once this recovery has been made on the additional costs, the rate increase will be there to stay.

  • mikeyd

    the psc is a joke

  • Voter

    Oh it will cost us plenty as usual.

  • wvrefugee

    What a joke! They haven't cleared their line ways from the last time the PSC approved their plans!