West Penn Power Removing Ash Trees to Help Prevent Outages

Special Emerald Ash Borer Program Enters Third Year as Crews Remove Dead and Damaged Ash Trees to Enhance Service Reliability

Jul 15, 2015, 08:27 ET from FirstEnergy Corp.

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:

  • AlleghenyBethel Park, Elizabeth Township, Floreffe, Millerstown, Upper St. Clair Township
  • ArmstrongKittanning, Rural Valley
  • ButlerButler, Hannahstown, Slippery Rock
  • CentreBellefonte, Centre Hall, Mackeyville, Madisonburg, Rebersburg, State College
  • ClarionClarion, Reidsburg, Sligo
  • ElkRidgway, St. Marys  
  • FayetteConnellsville, Gans, Hopwood, Phillips, Uniontown
  • FranklinCaledonia, Chambersburg, Greencastle, State Line
  • WashingtonCanonsburg, Houston, Washington, Wylandville
  • WestmorelandAdamsburg, 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.

West Penn Power serves about 720,000 customers in 24 Pennsylvania counties.  Follow West Penn Power on Twitter @W_Penn_Power and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WestPennPower.

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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SOURCE FirstEnergy Corp.