SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Appalachian Power wasted no time getting to work on an order from the state Public Service Commission to begin cleaning its rights of way. The March order from the PSC requires all 24,000 miles of power line in southern West Virginia be cleared on a four year cycle. The company has six years to get it done a first time and the process is well underway.
“This is a pretty big increase manpower wise,” said Philip Ross, supervisor of Regional Forestry for Appalachian Power. “We’ve added 60 outsource crews recently and the numbers change as the seasons changed, but it’s a significant increase in the number of crews working.”
Those crews are instructed on specific guidelines about adequate clearing of the power lines. Those guidelines are based on the International Society of Arboriculture. Much of the work will be done on private property and landowners will be hearing from the power company as the work progresses.
“It’s important for people to know we’ll be contacting them as we come around and we’ll make arrangements. They’re not going to be kept in the dark,” he said. “We ask they bear with us. We’ve got a big system, 24,000 miles and we’ve got six years to get through hit the first time. It’s not all going to happen overnight.”
The PSC ordered the cleaning following damages and extended outages from the 2012 Derecho and subsequently from Superstorm Sandy. Ross said having those rights of way cleared should improve recovery from powerful storms in the future.
“This should improve reliability,” he said. “It’s not going to prevent storm damage, but it should enable us to recover much more quickly when a storm does move through.”