Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

October 16, 2013

Brush clearing: Winter preparations important

— — Crews contracted by Appalachian Power are currently busy trimming trees and removing brush close to electrical lines across the region. We are glad to see this work underway in advance of winter.

As power outages are unfortunately frequent in our region during periods of inclement weather, preventive measures aimed at keeping trees away from power lines is of particular importance. It is normally a combination of trees, heavy snow and strong winds that bring power lines down. And heavy snow and strong winds are particularly troublesome when it comes to causing trees to fall on power lines.

An example was the powerful derecho storm that hammered the region in July 2012. Thousands of households and businesses across the region were left without electricity for weeks following the storm that toppled both trees and power lines.

But the looming threat in the months ahead is not another derecho, but snow. And it has been proven year after year that heavy snow can bring trees on power lines in the mountains of southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia. That’s why tree trimming along power lines is so important.

Crews are currently working to trim trees in Bluefield and the Duhring areas of Mercer County. While the tree trimming operations are timely, such efforts actually continue throughout the year, according to Appalachian Power spokesman Phil Moye.

“The hope is that when we do have a storm, that (trimming) will lessen the amount of damage we have and eliminate the times when there is a power outage,” Moye said.

In Virginia, Appalachian Power now has a pilot program for clearing lines from one end of a circuit, or a line of high-voltage power lines, from end to end every four years, according to Moye. Power lines running through the Rocky Gap community were recently cleared through this pilot program.

Moye says the company hopes to launch a similar pilot program in West Virginia, and has submitted a plan to the state Public Service Commission for approval.

But despite the best efforts of all involved, power outages are still to be expected when powerful storms strike, according to the company.

“There is going to be some level of damage and some level of interruptions,” Moye said. “With tree trimming, we try to eliminate outages due to wind and less severe weather. The hope is that when we do have a storm, that (trimming) will lessen the amount of damage we have and eliminate the times when there is a power outage.”

We share that goal. That’s why it is important for the tree trimming operations to continue across our region.

It is our hope that the ongoing tree trimming operations will lessen the impact of power outages upon the region this winter.

 

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