GREENSBURG, Pa., April 14, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- West Penn Power, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE), continues to conduct tree trimming work in communities across its 24-county service area in central and western Pennsylvania. These activities help maintain proper clearances around electrical equipment and help protect against tree-related outages.
Since the beginning of the year, West Penn Power contractors have trimmed trees along approximately 1,100 circuit miles of electric lines as part of the company's approximately $31 million vegetation management program for 2015, with an additional 3,400 miles expected to be completed by year end.
"The tree trimming we have done over the past several years has made a noticeable difference in reducing the number of tree-related outages," said David W. McDonald, president of West Penn Power. "In 2011, trees accounted for one in three power interruptions for West Penn Power customers. By the end of 2014, tree-related outages had been reduced to about one in every five outages. With this year's tree trimming program, we intend to further enhance service reliability for our customers."
As part of West Penn Power's tree trimming program, about $1 million will be spent to continue the aggressive removal of dead and dying ash trees damaged by the Emerald Ash Borer that began last year. The company is expecting to remove up to 10,000 ash trees in 2015, with about 2,000 removed year-to-date. Since the ash tree program began last year, more than 12,000 dead and dying trees have been proactively removed before causing damage to West Penn Power's electrical system.
All tree trimming work is conducted 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 works with municipalities to inform them of tree trimming schedules. In addition, customers living in areas along company rights-of-way also are notified prior to vegetation management work being done.
During the upcoming months, West Penn Power's tree trimming work will take place in the following counties and communities:
- Allegheny – Bethel Park, Elizabeth Township, Floreffe, Millerstown, Upper St. Clair Township
- Butler – Butler, Hannahstown, Slippery Rock
- Centre – Bellefonte, Centre Hall, Mackeyville, Madisonburg, Rebersburg, State College
- Fayette – Gans, Hopwood, Phillips, Uniontown
- Washington – Canonsburg, Houston, Washington, Wylandville
- Westmoreland – Adamsburg, Carbon, Circleville, Greensburg, Hecla, Hunker, Latrobe, Level Green, Manor, New Kensington, Oklahoma
The vegetation management program includes inspections near the power lines to ensure trees are pruned in a manner that helps preserve the health of the tree, while also maintaining safety near electric facilities. Trees that present a danger or are diseased also may be removed.
West Penn Power serves about 720,000 customers in 24 Pennsylvania counties. Follow West Penn Power on Twitter @W_Penn_Power.
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 tree trimming in West Penn Power's service area are available for download on Flickr.
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Forward-looking statements involve estimates, assumptions, known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements, which may include the following: the speed and nature of increased competition in the electric utility industry, in general, and the retail sales market in particular; the ability to experience growth in the Regulated Distribution and Regulated Transmission segments and to successfully implement our revised sales strategy for the Competitive Energy Services segment; the accomplishment of our regulatory and operational goals in connection with our transmission investment plan, pending transmission and distribution rate cases and the effectiveness of our repositioning strategy to reflect a more regulated business profile; changes in assumptions regarding economic conditions within our territories, assessment of the reliability of our transmission system, or the availability of capital or other resources supporting identified transmission investment opportunities; the impact of the regulatory process on the pending matters at the federal level and in the various states in which we do business including, but not limited to, matters related to rates and pending rate cases, including the Electric Security Plan IV in Ohio; the impact of the federal regulatory process on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regulated entities and transactions, in particular FERC regulation of wholesale energy and capacity markets, including PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (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; regulatory outcomes associated with storm restoration costs, including but not limited to, Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Irene and the October snowstorm of 2011; 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 expenditures 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 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. The foregoing review of factors should not be construed as exhaustive. New factors emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for management to predict all such factors, nor assess the impact of any such factor on FirstEnergy's business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements. FirstEnergy expressly disclaims any current intention to update, except as required by law, any forward-looking statements contained herein as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
SOURCE FirstEnergy Corp.