FirstEnergy Corp. FE announced that its subsidiary, Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) will continue trimming trees for a couple of months more to enhance system reliability. The company will cut vegetation across 60 municipalities to ensure proper clearance for electrical equipment and power lines, in a bid to minimize the possibility of tree-related outages during harsh weather conditions.
The company believes that prudent vegetation management is essential for increasing reliability of services even during storms. This saves electrical infrastructure from being damaged, as lack of management in this aspect ultimately leads to customers suffering the consequences.
Why Vegetation Control in Essential
Trimming trees at regular intervals is imperative in protecting power transmission and distribution infrastructure from weather-related damages.
Utility companies’ annual maintenance expenditure includes spending on keeping their electrical equipment free of vegetation. FirstEnergy has inspected and cleared over 2,000 circuit miles, as part of JCP&L's 2016 tree trimming program worth nearly $28 million, since the beginning of the year.
JCP&L is expected to clear vegetation across another 1,400 miles by the year end. Note that the company will take advice from forest experts before cutting the trees.
In this context, recently, Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. (HE) has filed for a rate hike to recover investments it made in maintenance including vegetation management. The company has invested $14 million in Albizia tree removal since 2014.
Zacks Ranks & Key Picks
FirstEnergy currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Better-ranked stocks in the utility industry are Spark Energy, Inc. SPKE, Korea Electric Power Corporation KEP and DTE Energy DTE. Spark Energy and Korea Electric Power sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), while DTE Energy carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
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