“Enhancing Electric Service Reliability: JCP&L’s Comprehensive Vegetation Management Program”

FirstEnergy Corp.’s subsidiary, Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L), is actively engaged in a comprehensive vegetation management program aimed at enhancing electric service reliability. Covering more than 3,400 miles of power lines across its 13-county service territory, this initiative underscores the company’s commitment to minimizing tree-related outages, particularly during severe weather events. Through strategic tree trimming and maintenance efforts, JCP&L aims to ensure uninterrupted power supply to its customers, thereby improving the overall reliability and resilience of the electrical grid.

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The importance of vegetation management in mitigating power outages cannot be overstated. Trees and branches are among the leading causes of disruptions to electric service, posing significant challenges to utility companies like JCP&L, especially in regions prone to adverse weather conditions. By proactively addressing vegetation encroachment along power lines, JCP&L seeks to preemptively reduce the risk of tree-related outages, safeguarding the continuity of service for its customers.

In line with its commitment to proactive maintenance, JCP&L has allocated $32.5 million for this year’s tree-trimming plan. This substantial investment reflects the company’s recognition of the critical role vegetation management plays in preserving electric service reliability. Moreover, this plan marks the beginning of an annual $1.5 million increase in tree trimming, as stipulated in a settlement agreement with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU). This forward-looking approach underscores JCP&L’s dedication to continuously improving its infrastructure and operational practices to better serve its customers and communities.

Additionally, JCP&L will allocate an extra $2.5 million per year over the next five years to expand tree-trimming zones along 18 high-priority circuits in central and northern New Jersey. These circuits were identified based on historical outage data, highlighting the company’s data-driven approach to infrastructure investment and maintenance. By focusing resources on areas with the greatest need, JCP&L aims to maximize the impact of its vegetation management efforts, further enhancing the reliability and resilience of the electrical grid.

Jim Fakult, President of JCP&L, emphasizes the significance of proactive tree-trimming efforts in reducing the frequency and duration of power outages, particularly during the summer storm season. Falling trees and branches pose a significant risk to power lines, often resulting in service disruptions for customers. By maintaining clearances around electrical equipment and preserving the health of trees near power lines, JCP&L aims to minimize the impact of vegetation-related incidents on electric service reliability.

JCP&L’s tree-trimming program operates on a four-year cycle, ensuring regular inspections and maintenance of vegetation near power lines. Certified forestry contractors, under the company’s direction, conduct tree-trimming activities to ensure compliance with safety and environmental standards. This systematic approach to vegetation management enables JCP&L to effectively balance the need for reliable electric service with environmental stewardship, promoting sustainable practices in infrastructure maintenance.

While JCP&L’s tree-trimming program is designed to mitigate tree-related outages, it is essential to recognize the limitations of this approach. In 2023, 86% of tree-related outages in JCP&L’s service territory were caused by trees located outside of company rights-of-way. Despite proactive maintenance efforts, trees beyond these areas remain a significant risk factor for electric service reliability. To address this challenge, JCP&L encourages collaboration with residents and municipalities to identify and address potential hazards posed by trees near power lines.

Residents can report trees posing a risk to power lines through JCP&L’s website, enabling company foresters to assess and address the situation promptly. This proactive engagement with the community underscores JCP&L’s commitment to transparent communication and collaborative problem-solving in vegetation management.

Over the next two months, JCP&L will conduct tree-trimming activities in various counties and municipalities across its service territory. By prioritizing high-risk areas and coordinating with local authorities, the company aims to maximize the effectiveness of its vegetation management efforts while minimizing disruptions to residents and communities. This proactive approach reflects  proactive commitment to enhancing electric service reliability through targeted infrastructure investment and maintenance.

In addition to tree-trimming activities, is also engaged in a multi-year effort to identify and remove deteriorated ash trees affected by the Emerald Ash Borer. Since 2017, nearly 53,000 dead and dying ash trees have been removed in s service area, primarily in northern New Jersey. This proactive response to the threat posed by invasive species demonstrates  commitment to environmental stewardship and preserving the health of local ecosystems.

JCPL works closely with municipalities to proactively inform them of vegetation management schedules and engage residents in tree maintenance efforts. By fostering collaboration and community involvement,  seeks to promote a shared understanding of the importance of vegetation management in preserving electric service reliability.

In conclusion, JCP&L’s comprehensive vegetation management program reflects its commitment to enhancing electric service reliability and resilience. Through strategic tree-trimming efforts, targeted infrastructure investment, and proactive community engagement,  aims to minimize the impact of tree-related outages and ensure uninterrupted power supply for its customers. By prioritizing high-risk areas and leveraging data-driven insights, JL continues to strengthen the reliability and resilience of the electrical grid, contributing to the overall well-being and prosperity of the communities it serves.

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