CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Appalachian Power will soon have a lot of work happening along the company’s power line right- of-way across southern West Virginia. This week the state Public Service Commission approved a comprehensive right-of-way maintenance and vegetation control plan.
“We have in the past used a system where we look at the circuits most in need of improvement and base our right-of-way maintenance on that,” said Appalachian Power Communications Director Jeri Matheney. “With this, every line will be looked at least every four years from the power plant to the customer.”
The plan is to keep rights-of-way clear is aimed at improving service, especially during times following storms like the Derecho and Superstorm Sandy.
“It will improve reliability,” said Matheney. “It won’t stop all outages, but it will allow us to restore service faster in many cases.”
The improved service however will come with a price. Matheney said the estimated cost of the plan is $58 million, which is $40 million more than the current budget. However, the PSC did allow the company could bill that cost to customers.
“We’ll spread that out among our customers,” said Matheney. “No customers will see an increase on that for quite some time because we’re going to file a general rate case by June 30 and the commission has almost a year to look at those costs.”
The new program will go into effect immediately. Matheny said it will take six years to get to all of the rights-of-way covered the first time and after that they will work on a four-year rotation.