Mon Power Deploys Aerial Saw to Trim Trees in Hard-to-Access Areas
FAIRMONT, W.Va., Aug. 16, 2023 -- FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) subsidiary Mon Power is using a helicopter equipped with an aerial saw to trim trees and ensure proper clearance around nearly 600 miles of high-voltage transmission lines in its West Virginia service area. The work is expected to conclude this fall.
The transmission corridors are located in Braxton, Brooke, Gilmer, Hancock, Harrison, Lewis, Marion, Monongalia, Nicholas, Pleasants, Pocahontas, Preston, Randolph, Roane, Taylor, Tucker, Tyler, Upshur, Webster, Wirt and Wood counties.
Maintaining proper clearances around transmission lines and electrical equipment can help prevent or minimize the impact of tree-related power outages, especially those associated with severe weather during the summer and winter storm seasons. Clearing incompatible vegetation under power lines also gives company personnel easier access to inspect and maintain lines and make repairs quicker if an outage occurs.
"Taking this proactive step to protect our high-voltage lines is an important part of our vegetation management program and an effective way to reduce or minimize service interruptions for our customers," said Jim Myers, president of FirstEnergy's West Virginia operations. "This work complements the various investments we make to preserve and enhance our electric grid each year."
Suspended on a boom beneath the helicopter and equipped with multiple 24-inch rotary blades, the aerial saw is typically deployed along transmission lines in areas that are environmentally sensitive or inaccessible to bucket trucks and other vehicles. This fast, safe and efficient method of trimming typically covers more area in a day than a ground crew might complete in a week. The saw also eliminates the risk of injury to workers using bucket trucks or climbing trees to cut limbs near high-voltage equipment.
The saw cleanly cuts tree limbs 8 to 10 inches in diameter, which fall straight to the ground propelled by air blasts from the helicopter rotors. Ground crews move limbs that have fallen onto roads, yards, agricultural fields or in streams. The ground crew will also flag and stop motorists along roads if the aerial saw is working nearby.
The helicopter flies above and alongside transmission lines and may circle around to perform additional trimming. The pilot communicates with local airport personnel whenever the helicopter is operating within their air space. The helicopter and saw are owned and operated by Aerial Solutions and will work only as weather conditions permit.
In addition to trimming trees, helicopter crews have inspected more than 2,000 miles of transmission lines located in Mon Power's service territory. The inspections are designed to look for damaged wire, broken crossarms, insulator issues and other hardware problems not visible from the ground. Potential reliability issues identified during the inspection will be prioritized and addressed as quickly as possible. Vegetation management aerial patrols are also in progress to inspect vegetation on the transmission corridor.
FirstEnergy is dedicated to integrity, 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. The company's transmission subsidiaries operate approximately 24,000 miles of transmission lines that connect the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. Follow FirstEnergy online at www.firstenergycorp.com and on Twitter @FirstEnergyCorp.
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