CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Members of the state Public Service Commission have approved comprehensive rights-of-way vegetation management programs for Mon Power and Potomac Edison, subsidiaries of FirstEnergy.

With the plans, the goal is to improve electric service reliability and lessen the impact and recovery time from service interruptions following major weather events in the future — those like the derecho in June 2012, Superstorm Sandy in 2012 or the winter storms of 2013 and 2014.

In Jan. 2013, the PSC ordered all electric utility companies operating in West Virginia to file such proposals for trimming programs.

Now that those plans have approval from the PSC, workers will have to go through the entire service area and systematically trim the trees and vegetation in rights-of-way so there is little to no interference with power lines.

The companies will be able to recover the additional costs associated with the vegetation plans from customers.

In March, the PSC approved such comprehensive plans for American Electric Power’s Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power.  Plans for four smaller companies had been previously approved.

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  • I'm honest at least

    Do I smell a rate increase double the amount to trim??

    • Electric man

      There will definitely be a rate increase, for customers of APCo, Mon Power, and Potomac Edison. The added amount of vegetation management needed to achieve this goal is going to cost a LOT of money. This will involve the re-clearing, trimming, spraying, etc. of many thousands of miles of line across the state. It will improve safety and reliability once all the rights-of-way have been worked out, but in no way will this prevent all tree related outages, of which the most damaging and costly are caused by trees that fall from outside of the right-of-way and will never be able to be totally prevented, as long as there are trees and power lines. It is not possible or feasible to cut all trees that could possibly fall and hit distribution power lines, and property owners would never allow it if it was.

    • ViennaGuy

      Not likely. Prior to 2013, electric utilities trimmed their rights-of-way without any sort of PSC filings or rate increases; there is no reason to think that this will be any different.