Appalachian Power to use helicopters to maintain power line rights of way

Appalachian Power, a unit of American Electric Power, is set to begin aerial application of herbicides by helicopter to maintain the rights of way for some power lines in West Virginia.

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.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDoA) have registered herbicides used by AEP for use on rights of way.

EPA and WVDoA 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.

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.

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