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Mon Power tree trimming work under way in several MOV counties

Mon Power work under way in several MOV counties

Photos provided Contractors perform vegetation management work on behalf of Mon Power. The company’s 2021 tree-trimming program is underway.

FAIRMONT — Mon Power has begun its 2021 tree-trimming program to clear vegetation around nearly 5,700 miles of power lines in an effort to enhance service reliability for customers in West Virginia.

Work is already underway in Calhoun, Gilmer, Ritchie, Wetzel and Wood counties, said Will Boye, a spokesman for Mon Power, a subsidiary of First Energy Corp. It’s expected to begin in Wirt County by late summer.

Maintaining proper clearances and removing dead or diseased trees around electrical equipment can help reduce the frequency and duration of power outages, especially those associated with severe weather, according to a release from Mon Power.

Clearing incompatible vegetation under power lines also results in easier access for company personnel to inspect and maintain lines and make repairs faster if an outage occurs.

Total customer outage minutes in Mon Power’s 34-county service territory have dropped more than 40 percent since 2015, the first full year of the existing tree-trimming program.

“Our tree-trimming program is critical to identifying potential hazards across our service area and is one of the most effective ways we can minimize service interruptions for our customers,” said Jim Myers, president of West Virginia operations for FirstEnergy.

Mon Power operates on a four-year trimming cycle and will spend more than $70 million on its vegetation management program this year, which includes 480 miles of overhead transmission power lines.

During the trimming process, vegetation is inspected and trees are pruned in a manner that helps preserve the health of the tree while also maintaining safety near electric facilities.

In some cases, trees that are diseased or pose a threat to power lines or equipment may be removed.

Mon Power’s program includes about $2.5 million to proactively remove deteriorated ash trees damaged by the emerald ash borer along larger distribution lines and lines near electric substations.

The vegetation management work is conducted by certified forestry experts under the company’s direction. Mon Power works with municipalities to inform them of trimming schedules, and customers living in areas along company rights-of-way are notified prior to vegetation management work being done.

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