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.”

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  • Ken

    It should be against the law for the power companies be allowewd to pass the cost on to the consumer when they should have been maintaining the right aways all along. Everytime they upgrade a plant or line the cost is always passed on to us

  • Silas Lynch

    This is a ridiculous waste of money when they should and could be replacing these same lines, particularly those in the most prone areas to storm damaging from falling tress and limbs, UNDERGROUND.

    Yes, the initial cost is likely higher for the Power Company and most likely the consumer will be forced to inherit some of the cost as well but the more of the power infrastructure you have underground the less frequent power outages become from storms.

    Less power outages results in less lost revenue and wages for employers and employees alike-- less loss of perishable goods as food AND less fatalities and health issues. How many people die resulting from carbon-monoxide poisoning from kerosene heaters each power outage..

  • bjorn74

    I guess they will be working naked...if they "bare" with us!!!!

  • bulldog95

    What a waste of time and money that will be passed onto the consumer. I see these guys out where I live "clearing" alright. They are clearing all that little stuff that isn't anywhere near big enough to land on a power line let alone knock the power out. They are leaving all the big trees that are like 5 feet from the pwer line though.

    I understand that they can get in there and repair the lines if all the brush is cut out but how about working on keeping trees from landing on the lines to begin with.