Accelerated vegetation management program sought by Appalachian Power for better electric reliability in Virginia
ROANOKE, Va., Nov. 21, 2016 – Appalachian Power has filed a request with the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) seeking approval of a new accelerated vegetation management program in the Commonwealth that has been shown in a pilot program to reduce the number of tree- and other vegetation-caused power outages.
If approved, the proposal will enable Appalachian to accelerate its vegetation management operations and ultimately achieve a 4-year cycle of effectively clearing every distribution circuit in its Virginia service territory which, in many locations, is sparsely populated and characterized by dense vegetation and mountainous terrain.
The program is designed to enhance power quality, reduce service interruptions, and reduce the amount of time needed to restore power in the event of widespread storms and tree-related outages.
The proposal follows a successful 3-year, 30-circuit pilot program in Virginia that reduced vegetation-related outages by 30-60 percent when compared to previous years.
“The pilot showed benefits from tree-related outages including significant reductions for customers in frequency and duration of interruptions,” said Phil Wright, Appalachian’s vice president of distribution operations. “The company implemented a similar accelerated program in its West Virginia territory in 2014 and has already seen noticeable improvements there.”
The company is requesting cost recovery of $13.8 million for the first year of the accelerated program. That amount is not currently included in Appalachian’s approved base rates for Virginia. Those base rates are frozen until 2020.
The company is requesting that the SCC review program costs and customer charges on an annual basis.
The SCC has established a case number (PUE-2016-00090) and will set a hearing schedule to consider the company’s request.
Appalachian serves about 500,000 Virginia customers in an area covering approximately 11,000 square miles in 31 counties. The Virginia distribution system includes more than 26,600 miles of overhead lines—or about 300 feet for each customer.
Appalachian Power has 1 million customers in Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee (as AEP Appalachian Power). It is a unit of American Electric Power, one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, delivering electricity and custom energy solutions to nearly 5.4 million customers in 11 states. AEP owns the nation’s largest electricity transmission system, a more than 40,000-mile network that includes more 765-kilovolt extra-high voltage transmission lines than all other U.S. transmission systems combined. AEP also operates 223,000 miles of distribution lines. AEP ranks among the nation’s largest generators of electricity, owning approximately 31,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the U.S.