Drivers on local roads in Bernards Township since late August have been maneuvering around trucks and tree trimmers hired by JCP&L to clear branches and other vegetation from power lines, a job that will continue this month, a JCP&L spokesman said.
Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) as part of the electric utility’s program to improve service reliability and, in communities such as Bernards, to do a major clearing job that is scheduled once every four years, said JCP&L spokesman Ron Morano.
It has been four years since JCP&L conducted such a major trimming in Bernards Township, although the power company does conduct in-between maintenance around power lines, Morano said on Wednesday.
Morano said he does not know when the trimming project in this area will be complete. He said JCP&L has hired subcontractors who are certified arborists to do the job, and those subcontractors are working under the supervision of JCP&L foresters.
"They trim [sufficiently] to allow for growth, and to make it safe," Morano said.
Part of the state Board of Public Utility's follow-up on the last year focused on proper vegetative management, Morano said.
Morano said that trees being trimmed are not only on public property, but also in public right-of-ways along private property.
Property owners with trees that they feel should be trimmed away from power lines can call the service number at 1-800-662-3115 and, "We will come out to look at it," Morano said.
Bruce McArthur confirmed that JCP&L is conducting an "aggressive" trimming operation. He said residents have been little inclined to complain this time because they realize the need for reliable power. Downed trees and branches on power lines were the major cause of outages in Bernards Township and other communities.
"I think it's safe to say that people became more aware of our need to trim following the two catastrophic storm events we had," Morano said on Wednesday.
“Before the end of the year we expect to trim more than 3,900 miles of lines,
improve clearances, remove dangerous trees and perform additional spot trimming,” said Holly Kauffman, JCP&L vice president of Operations said in a news release from JCP&L dated Aug. 27. “This work plays an important role in delivering reliable service to customers.”
Trees and tree branches that fall into electric lines are a leading cause of power
outages, and when trees and power lines touch, it can create a dangerous condition, the power company said.
JCP&L’s certified contractors have already trimmed trees along more than 1,500 miles of the company’s distribution and sub-transmission circuits in 2012. The work will continue throughout the year, JCP&L said in the August release.
The company’s certified forestry experts inspect vegetation near the lines to
ensure trees are pruned in a manner that preserves the health of the tree, while also maintaining safety near electric facilities, the release said. Trees that present a danger or are diseased may also be removed, JCP&L said.
Municipalities and customers living in areas along company right-of-ways are notified prior to work being done, JCP&L's release said in August.