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    Gahanna, New Albany - AEP Ohio trimming trees to help prevent outages


    August 4, 2022 - Marla K. Kuhlman

     

      Tree trimming by AEP Ohio for both low-voltage distribution and high-voltage transmission lines is taking place in communities all around central Ohio, including Gahanna and New Albany.

      On any given day, AEP has more than 50 tree crews working in the Columbus district, which includes the suburbs and Delaware, according to Dale Hopkns, AEO Ohio forestry manager.

      While specific dates aren't available where work is being performed, Hopkins said, affected homeowners are notified in advance of the work.

      Fallen trees and branches are one of the most common causes of power outages and that's why there's a comprehensive year-round program to manage trees that grow near or around lines and equipment, according to Hopkins.

      He said the program has improved the ability to provide safe, reliable electric service.

      Hopkins said it's important to note the two types of power lines that AEP works to clear: high-voltage transmission lines that transmit power to substations, and low-voltage distribution lines that transmit power from those substations to customers' homes.

      "For our regular tree maintenance on our low-voltage or distribution lines, we notify customers in advance with a postcard and automated phone call about two weeks in advance of our work planners visiting the property to discuss work with the homeowner," he said. "We also post notices on the 'Nextdoor' social platform.

      "On the day of work, we will knock on doors to advise homeowners that work is beginning."

      Hopkins said it's important for customers to keep their contact information up-to-date so that AEP is able to reach them.

      To verify their information, customers can go online to aepohio.com.

      "Every property has different needs and we want to determine if any assistance is needed with the property owner (such as ensuring dogs are contained)," he said.

      "If they're not home, we leave a door hanger and would appreciate a call back to the number listed to schedule an appointment."

      Hopkins said clearing is based on a four-year cycle for low-voltage or distribution lines.

      Circuits, the areas designated for trimming, being cleared this year will be scheduled again in four years, he said.

      "If we see customers start to have outages from trees before the area's next planned trimming cycle, we consider clearing these problem areas before the whole circuit is trimmed again," Hopkins said.

      AEP was performing an accelerated tree-maintenance effort earlier this summer, focusing on the high-voltage transmission lines that run through many central Ohio communities, and that effort is complete, according to Hopkins.

      "We are back to routine maintenance," he said. "The frequency of tree trimming on those high-voltage lines depends on multiple factors, such as growth rates and weather."

      Dan Pearlman, Gahanna public information officer, said AEP Ohio has been very responsive to the community's concerns regarding repairs and maintenance, and the mayor's office is in regular contact with them.

      "We strive to be a liaison between the company and residents as much as possible, and we share information with residents as it is made available," he said.

      Scott McAfee, New Albany's chief communications and marketing officer, said no issues have been reported there either.

      AEP Ohio's customer service team can be contacted by phone at 800-672-2231 or online at aepohio.com.

      mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

      @ThisWeekMarla

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