GREENSBURG, Pa., July 15, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- To help prevent service interruptions and enhance system reliability, West Penn Power, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE), is continuing a special program to remove trees damaged by the emerald ash borer located near power lines. Year-to-date, more than 7,700 dead ash trees have been removed, with an additional 3,300 ash trees expected to be removed by year-end.
The ash tree removal work is budgeted at more than $1 million and is part of West Penn Power's $31 million vegetation management program for 2015, which includes work along more than 4,500 miles of power lines throughout the company's 24-county service area in central and western Pennsylvania. Since the emerald ash borer program began three years ago, West Penn Power forestry contractors are on pace to remove more than 20,000 dead or damaged ash trees.
"Throughout our service area, more ash trees near power lines are succumbing to damage from the ash borer, posing an ongoing risk to our electrical infrastructure," said David W. McDonald, president of West Penn Power. "To enhance reliability, we continue to target and aggressively remove dead ash trees before they can disrupt service to our customers."
The invasive emerald ash borer originated in Asia and was first confirmed in the U.S. in Michigan in 2002. The infestation has since spread to Pennsylvania and 21 other states where it has killed millions of trees. West Penn Power first detected the emerald ash borer in Butler County in 2012.
For the remainder of the year, West Penn Power plans to continue removing dead ash trees in the following counties and communities:
- Allegheny – Bethel Park, Elizabeth Township, Floreffe, Millerstown, Upper St. Clair Township
- Armstrong – Kittanning, Rural Valley
- Butler – Butler, Hannahstown, Slippery Rock
- Centre – Bellefonte, Centre Hall, Mackeyville, Madisonburg, Rebersburg, State College
- Clarion – Clarion, Reidsburg, Sligo
- Elk – Ridgway, St. Marys
- Fayette – Connellsville, Gans, Hopwood, Phillips, Uniontown
- Franklin – Caledonia, Chambersburg, Greencastle, State Line
- Washington – Canonsburg, Houston, Washington, Wylandville
- Westmoreland – Adamsburg, Carbon, Circleville, Greensburg, Hecla, Hunker, Latrobe, Level Green, Manor, New Kensington, Oklahoma
As part of its proactive communications efforts, West Penn Power works with local municipalities to inform them of upcoming tree work schedules. Additionally, customers living in areas along company rights-of-way also are notified prior to the start of vegetation management activities.
All tree work is conducted to national standards by West Penn Power's certified forestry contractors, including Asplundh Tree Expert Company, Jaflo Inc., Lewis Tree Service Inc., Penn Line Service Inc., Townsend Tree Service and Davey Tree Expert Company.
FirstEnergy is a diversified energy company dedicated to safety, reliability and operational excellence. Its 10 electric distribution companies form one of the nation's largest investor-owned electric systems, serving customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York. Visit FirstEnergy on the web at www.firstenergycorp.com and follow FirstEnergy on Twitter @FirstEnergyCorp.
Editor's Note: Photos of trees damaged by the emerald ash borer are available for download on Flickr.
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(PJM) markets and FERC-jurisdictional wholesale transactions; FERC regulation of cost-of-service rates, including FERC Opinion No. 531's revised Return on Equity methodology for FERC jurisdictional wholesale generation and transmission utility service; and FERC's compliance and enforcement activity, including compliance and enforcement activity related to North American Electric Reliability Corporation's mandatory reliability standards; the uncertainties of various cost recovery and cost allocation issues resulting from American Transmission Systems Incorporated's realignment into PJM; economic or weather conditions affecting future sales and margins such as a polar vortex or other significant weather events, and all associated regulatory events or actions; changing energy, capacity and commodity market prices including, but not limited to, coal, natural gas and oil, and their availability and impact on retail margins; the continued ability of our regulated utilities to recover their costs; costs being higher than anticipated and the success of our policies to control costs and to mitigate low energy, capacity and market prices; other legislative and regulatory changes, and revised environmental requirements, including, but not limited to, proposed greenhouse gases emission and water discharge regulations and the effects of the United States Environmental Protection Agency's coal combustion residuals regulations, Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, including our estimated costs of compliance, and Clean Water Act 316(b) water intake regulation; the uncertainty of the timing and amounts of the capital expenditures that may arise in connection with any litigation, including New Source Review litigation, or potential regulatory initiatives or rulemakings (including that such initiatives or rulemakings could result in our decision to deactivate or idle certain generating units); the uncertainties associated with the deactivation of certain older regulated and competitive fossil units, including the impact on vendor commitments, and the timing thereof as they relate to the reliability of the transmission grid; the impact of other future changes to the operational status or availability of our generating units; adverse regulatory or legal decisions and outcomes with respect to our nuclear operations (including, but not limited to the revocation or non-renewal of necessary licenses, approvals or operating permits by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission or as a result of the incident at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant); issues arising from the indications of cracking in the shield building at Davis-Besse; the risks and uncertainties associated with litigation, arbitration, mediation and like proceedings, including, but not limited to, any such proceedings related to vendor commitments; the impact of labor disruptions by our unionized workforce; replacement power costs being higher than anticipated or not fully hedged; the ability to comply with applicable state and federal reliability standards and energy efficiency and peak demand reduction mandates; changes in customers' demand for power, including, but not limited to, changes resulting from the implementation of state and federal energy efficiency and peak demand reduction mandates; the ability to accomplish or realize anticipated benefits from strategic and financial goals, including, but not limited to, the ability to continue to reduce costs and to successfully execute our financial plans designed to improve our credit metrics and strengthen our balance sheet through, among other actions, our previously-implemented dividend reduction, our cash flow initiative project and our other proposed capital raising initiatives; our ability to improve electric commodity margins and the impact of, among other factors, the increased cost of fuel and fuel transportation on such margins; changing market conditions that could affect the measurement of certain liabilities and the value of assets held in our Nuclear Decommissioning Trusts, pension trusts and other trust funds, and cause us and/or our subsidiaries to make additional contributions sooner, or in amounts that are larger than currently anticipated; the impact of changes to material accounting policies; the ability to access the public securities and other capital and credit markets in accordance with our announced financial plans, the cost of such capital and overall condition of the capital and credit markets affecting us and our subsidiaries; actions that may be taken by credit rating agencies that could negatively affect us and/or our subsidiaries' access to financing, increase the costs thereof, and increase requirements to post additional collateral to support outstanding commodity positions, letters of credit and other financial guarantees; changes in national and regional economic conditions affecting us, our subsidiaries and/or our major industrial and commercial customers, and other counterparties with which we do business, including fuel suppliers; the impact of any changes in tax laws or regulations or adverse tax audit results or rulings; issues concerning the stability of domestic and foreign financial institutions and counterparties with which we do business; the risks associated with cyber-attacks on our electronic data centers that could compromise the information stored on our networks, including proprietary information and customer data; and the risks and other factors discussed from time to time in our United States Securities and Exchange Commission filings, and other similar factors. 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SOURCE FirstEnergy Corp.