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Westmoreland

West Penn Power trimming trees

Joe Napsha
| Friday, May 11, 2018, 5:51 p.m.
A foreman with Asplundh Tree Expert Co. cuts back  ash trees from a power line in Delmont in this file photo from Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Trees coming into contact with power lines are the most common causes of power outages for West Penn Power customers.
Steph Chambers | Trib Total Media
A foreman with Asplundh Tree Expert Co. cuts back ash trees from a power line in Delmont in this file photo from Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Trees coming into contact with power lines are the most common causes of power outages for West Penn Power customers.

West Penn Power Co. plans to trim trees along 5,000 miles of utility lines this year across its 24-county service area in the state, including several communities in Allegheny, Fayette and Westmoreland counties.

During the upcoming months, West Penn Power said it will have certified forestry experts trimming trees in the following counties and communities:

• Allegheny – Curtisville, Elizabeth, Harrison Township, North Fayette Township and Oakdale.

• Fayette – Brier Hill, Bullskin Township, Dawson, Farmington, Gibbon Glade, Grindstone, Indianhead, Labelle, Masontown, Merrittstown, Normalville, Ohiopyle, Point Marion, Smithfield, Smithton and Uniontown.

• Westmoreland – Ardara, Avonmore, Export, Harrison City, Hyde Park, Jeannette, Lower Burrell, Mt. Pleasant, Murrysville, New Alexandria, Oakgrove, Pleasant Unity, Ruffs Dale, Salina, Straw Pump, Wilpen and Youngwood.

As part of its notification process, West Penn Power said it 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. The tree trimming is done on a five-year cycle. The work helps to maintain proper clearances around electrical equipment, which can reduce the frequency and duration of power outages, especially those associated with severe weather such as the numerous storms experienced this past winter.

Since the beginning of 2018, tree contractors have trimmed more than 1,200 circuit miles of electric lines in the West Penn Power service area as part of an almost $48.6 million vegetation management program for this year, the company said.

“The tree trimming we have done over the past several years is making a positive difference in keeping the lights on for our customers and restoring service in the wake of severe weather,” said David W. McDonald, president of West Penn Power.

The utility company has ramped up its efforts to proactively remove tens of thousands of deteriorated ash trees bordering the electric distribution lines that have been affected by the emerald ash borer. Harsh winter storms further damaged these trees and West Penn Power wants to remove them before the summer thunderstorms arrive.

West Penn Power's tree program expects to spend about $7.5 million to remove more than 68,000 ash trees along distribution lines in western Pennsylvania. As of early April, more than 13,000 ash trees had been removed.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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