Appalachian to use helicopters to maintain power line rights of way


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Beginning on or about June 1, Appalachian Power, a unit of American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP), will maintain the rights of way for some power lines in West Virginia by applying herbicides by helicopter.

“The company generally makes aerial maintenance applications only in less populated areas where terrain and accessibility make it difficult for ground-based crews to safely clear rights of way,” said John Ertz, senior utility forester. Rights of way in populated areas, as well as near parks, ponds and other sensitive areas, are maintained by other means.

Customers with questions about the company’s aerial maintenance program can call a toll-free number, 1-800-642-3622, for information. Customers also can write for information at AEP, Bluefield District, Attn: Transmission Forestry, 2507 Washington Street, Bluefield, WV 24701; or Charleston District, Attn: Transmission Forestry, P.O. Box 1986, Charleston, WV 25327.

Herbicides used by AEP have been registered for use on rights of way by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDoA), Ertz said. Herbicides to be used are glyphosate, imazapyr, metsulfuron methyl, fosamine, triclopyr, aminocyclopyrachlor and aminopyralid. Each has been extensively tested by the manufacturer, colleges and governmental and independent research laboratories.

Rigid EPA and WV Department of Agriculture restrictions and regulations are carefully observed by AEP contractors in applying herbicides. All areas to be treated are visually checked by helicopter pilots in advance to verify the location of any sensitive areas and to ensure that people or domestic animals are not visible in the area to be maintained. All applications are made by contractors who are certified applicators. Questions concerning these herbicides may be addressed to the EPA and the WV Department of Agriculture.

Right of way maintenance agreements between AEP and landowners are available to landowners who prefer to accept responsibility for clearing the right of way crossing their property in lieu of aerial application of herbicides.

The agreement compensates the landowner by an amount equivalent to the cost of aerial herbicide application, provided the work meets AEP’s specifications.

Residents who have questions about the program or who want to alert the company to the location of sensitive areas near power lines, such as springs, wells, streams, lakes, ponds, orchards, crop areas, gardens, pastures, meadows, year-round dwellings, public recreation areas and Christmas tree plantations, should also contact the company. To prevent any misunderstanding about the location of the sensitive areas being reported, the number of the nearest pole or tower should be provided. Numbers are posted on utility poles and on one leg of utility towers.

After the maintenance program begins, a 24-hour telephone service at the above number will provide information daily on locations scheduled for maintenance.

Complaints about possible damage resulting from herbicide applications should be made by contacting AEP at its toll-free number or the above addresses. Complaints also may be directed to the WVDoA, Pesticide Regulatory Programs Unit, which can be reached in Charleston at 304-558-2209.

Lines scheduled for maintenance in West Virginia:

Logan-Wyoming #1 138 kV – A transmission line on steel towers beginning at the Logan Station near Logan and running southeast, passing near Neibert, Rita, Taplin and Man, and ending at the Huff Creek Station near Huff Junction. This includes a tap line on wood poles running to the Rum Creek Station near Dehue.

Logan-Wyoming #2 138 kV – A transmission line on steel towers beginning at the Logan Station near Logan and running southeast, passing near Rossmore and Rich Creek and ending at the Guyandotte River crossing near Landville.

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