LOGAN — From Sarah Ann to Switzer, drivers in Logan County had to endure several traffic stops along the commute on Tuesday day.
Asplundh Tree Expert Company began aerial side trimming near Sarah Ann on Tuesday morning. Aerial side trimming helps utilities, railroads, pipelines and highway departments cost-effectively speed up the completion of difficult vegetation management projects. Aerial side trimming used to be considered only applicable to transmission right-of-way side trimming. However, it is now also considered practical for rural distribution trimming.
According to the Asplundh website, the aerial saw consists of powerful saws suspended by linked sections of aluminum pipe directly below a helicopter. The helicopter and saw can operate continuously for approximately one hour before refueling. The asplundh website also insists that the company fully complies with all Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations and have a flawless safety record.
Asplundh was contracted by Appalachian Power to cut the trees away from power lines which is part of AEP’s new vegetation management plan, trimming trees on a four year cycle rather than only targeting problem areas.
“We use that in rural areas,” Appalachian Power spokesperson Jeri Matheney said of the aerial saw. “It’s a blade that extends down from the helicopter. It is something that we use around the state.”
Although aerial trimming is very effective in rural areas, Matheney says that it is not the first option for trimming vegetation.
“Our first action is to spray vegetation with herbicides to control growth and the normal hand trimming,” said Matheney. “We usually will only use the aerial trimming in very rural areas and we do not use it nearly as much.”
The new efforts to maintain vegetation among power lines has been ongoing effort for approximately a year and while the progress is seen in areas that have been trimmed, Matheney says it will take six years to start the program on it’s regular four year cycle.
Trees entangled with power lines are a huge cause of concern for local residents. Just last week, a tree fell onto a power line in Gilbert, W.Va. and caused an electricity outage for residents of the Horsepen and Browning Fork areas.
Matheney says it is those types of instances that AEP is trying to prevent.
“While maintaining the vegetation will not stop outages during large snowstorms or massive rain and wind storms, it will stop the average thunderstorm from causing an outage due to one tree limb falling on a line.”
Aerial trimming may cause momentary outages in areas due to fallen limbs but Matheney insists that there is an AEP crew on stand by at the trimming locations if they need to assist with outages.
Madalin Sammons is a reporter for the Logan Banner. Madalin can be reached at [email protected]