First Energy kicks off tree trimming operations

First Energy Corporation
First Energy has kicked off tree trimming operations in the area.

WILLIAMSPORT, Md.–Potomac Edison, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., has kicked off its 2021 tree trimming program with plans to clear vegetation along approximately 1,670 miles of power lines in its Maryland service area and1,550 miles of lines in its territory in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.

Beginning this year,Potomac Edison’s Maryland vegetation management cycle is being shortened to four years instead of five, resulting in work along an additional 300 miles of lines annually.The four-year cycle will allow Potomac Edison to reach more Maryland communities each year and prevent a greater number of tree-related outages annually, enhancing service reliability for customers. With the shortened cycle, Potomac Edison will trim 6,059 circuit miles every four years in Maryland.

Potomac Edison already operates on a four-year trimming cycle in West Virginia. The company will spend nearly $38 million on its vegetation management program this year, which also includes 267 miles of its overhead transmission power lines.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. In 2020, the company saw a 45% reduction in tree-related outages compared to 2019,

and the amount of time customers experienced service interruptions due to trees dropped by 75%.

“Our tree-trimming program has generated meaningful benefits for our customers, and the move to a shorter cycle in Maryland will allow us to expand our annual coverage and reduce potential hazards more efficiently,” said James A. Sears, Jr., president of FirstEnergy's Maryland operations. During Potomac Edison’s 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 present a danger or are diseased may be removed. Clearing incompatible vegetation under power lines results in easier access for company personnel to inspect and maintain lines and make repairs sooner if an outage occurs.The vegetation management work is conducted by certified forestry experts under the company's direction, including more than 230 contractors with Asplundh Tree Expert Company, Lewis Tree, N.G. Gilbert, Nelson Tree Service, Wright Tree Service and Xylem Tree Experts.

Potomac Edison works with municipalities to inform them of tree trimming schedules, and customers living in areas along company rights-of-way are notified prior to vegetation management work being done. Potomac Edison will be conducting tree trimming work in the following counties and communities in 2021:

Maryland •

Allegany: Barton, Bel Air, Corriganville, Cresaptown, Cumberland, Ellerslie, Flintstone, Frostburg, LaVale, Little Orleans, Midland, Lonaconing, Oldtown

Garrett: Accident, Bittinger, Finzel, Grantsville, Jennings, McHenry, Swanton

West Virginia

Grant: Cabins, Maysville, Petersburg

Hampshire: Bloomery, Capon Bridge, Green Spring, High View, Romney, Purgittsville

Hardy: Needmore, Rig, Wardensville

Mineral: Fort Ashby, Short Gap.

Potomac Edison serves about 270,000 customers in all or parts of Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, Howard, Montgomery, and Washington counties in Maryland and 137,000 customers in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.