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February 28, 2018

ASHLAND, Ky., – Kentucky Power has re-cleared 9,060 miles of right-of-way since 2010 as part of a continued effort to improve customer service and reliability. That is a distance equivalent to more than three coast-to-coast trips across the U.S., according to

An employee for Kentucky Power contractor Asplundh Tree Expert Co. trims a tree in Carter County.An employee for Kentucky Power contractor Asplundh Tree Expert Co. trims a tree in Carter County.


“Kentucky Power has made significant progress in removing vegetation from within the rights-of-way and improving customer reliability and there are more opportunities in front of us,” said Greg Bell, Region Support Manager. The number of customer outages attributed to vines or tree inside rights-of-way has decreased 61 percent since 2011. Last year, the number of customers affected by trees or vines within the rights-of-way declined 60 percent from 72,076 in 2011 to 28,713.”

This year Kentucky Power will complete the first phase of its effort to move to a five-year trimming cycle. That initial clear is now about 95 percent complete. In 2018, Kentucky Power will remain focused on completion of the initial plan, completion of the interim plan, pursue widening opportunities, dead tree abatement, and removal of overhanging branches, Bell said.

Before 2010, Kentucky Power cleared vegetation, including trees, brush and other growth, on a performance-based approach. Lines that showed poor reliability were scheduled for clearing based on frequency of customer outages and the conditions of the rights-of-way.

Kentucky Power made such good progress on the plan that the Kentucky Public Service Commission approved a settlement agreement to scale back vegetation management spending to save customers money. The PSC approved the proposal as part of its order in Kentucky Power’s recent rate review request. The plan moves Kentucky Power to a 5-year cycle plan and reduces annual spending from $27 million in 2017 to about $21.5 million in 2018.

Initially, Kentucky Power used a third party statistical sample to establish a vegetation plan. The initial projections showed that approximately 1.1 million trees would need to be trimmed, 760,000 trees would need to be removed, and 17,100 acres of brush would need to be sprayed or cut in existing rights-of-way to achieve a projected 47 percent reduction for tree-related outages.

“By 2014, we realized the scope of work was bigger and would take more time,” said Forestry Supervisor Dusty Roll. “Kentucky Power had significantly underestimated the amount of vegetation in and around its energized facilities.”

Five months before completion of the initial trim, Kentucky Power trimmed approximately 573,500 trees, removed 1.9 million trees, cut 17,300 acres of brush, and sprayed 19,200 acres of brush.

“The Vegetation Management Program has been successful in developing a plan, acting on the plan, monitoring the plan, and adjusting the plan to meet continued reliability improvements at the most economical costs,” Bell said.

To not lose ground on existing reliability improvements, Kentucky Power has shifted its program from a 4-year cycle to a 5-year cycle to offset some of the additional expenses. The first 5-year cycle will begin in January 2019, he said.

Bell said Kentucky Power could not have been successful without its valued partners. Kentucky Power partners with several vegetation management contractors to support rights-of-way clearing efforts: Asplundh Tree Expert Co., Nelson Tree Service, Wright Tree Service, and Davey Resource Group.

In a recent email, one Kentucky Power customer in the Boyd County area praised work done by Nelson Tree Service. “I want to compliment the workers on their respectfulness and strong work ethic during each work day,” the customer wrote. “They put in a full day no matter the weather. Thank you for expecting such high work standards from your employees.”

Another Customer in Paintsville complemented recent work by Asplundh Tree Experts. “These crews were very hard workers and did a beautiful job trimming the trees and cleaning up.”

As the start of the 5-year cycle grows near, Kentucky Power will continue to review its Vegetation Management Program processes to complete the re-clearing in a safe, cost efficient, and effective manner, while improving the customer’s reliability and experience, Bell said.


Kentucky Power, with headquarters in Ashland, provides service to about 168,000 customers in 20 eastern Kentucky counties. Kentucky Power is an operating company in the American Electric Power system, one of the largest electric utilities in the U.S.


February 27, 2018

Driverless trucksDriverless trucks

FRANKFORT – Semi-autonomous tractor-trailers could be coming to Kentucky’s highways under a bill that unanimously passed the state Senate today.

Senate Bill 116 would allow truck platooning. The term refers to two or more individual commercial vehicles traveling together in sync with electronically coordinated speeds through wireless communication. Once the vehicles get on the road and platoon mode has been turned on, the front vehicle’s driver is in control of the speed while the following driver is able to take his or her foot off the gas pedal and stay in sync with the vehicle ahead.

“It is basically for the FedExs, UPSs, DHLs and Amazons of the world,” said sponsor Sen. Ernie Harris, R-Prospect, in reference to the shipping giants sprawling airfreight operations in Louisville and Northern Kentucky. Just this year, Amazon announced it would build a $1.4 billion hub at Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport to support a fleet of 100 plus Prime Air cargo planes.

A floor amendment introduced by Harris would limit the platoons to two vehicles and require truck operators to submit a platooning plan to the state police for review.

Harris said trucks traveling as close as 250 feet apart are more fuel-efficient because air-drag friction is reduced significantly. He also said safety is also improved because trucks in platoon mode only need one-fifth of the time a human would need to react.

During a committee hearing on the bill earlier this month, the state transportation department endorsed the legislation.

SB 116 now goes the House for consideration.


 February 23, 2018

The opioid epidemic is paralyzing the workforce. Even with six million open jobs across the country, rampant drug abuse has "incapacitated thousands of working-age people whom employers would otherwise be eager to hire," Lydia DePillis reports for CNN Money.

Research published in September from Princeton economist Alan Krueger found the rise in painkiller prescriptions from 1999 to 2015 led to a 20 percent drop in men’s workforce participation and 25 percent decline in women’s participation, especially in Appalachia, the Rust Belt coastal Washington, northwest Arkansas, and central Maryland.

As a result, "some employers that typically screen drug users out through testing are starting to become less picky," DePillis reports. But "such tolerance is not an option for all employers. Jobs that involve working with children typically bar people with criminal records," she adds. "Construction companies, too, are less likely to take the risk of hiring someone who might come to work high and make a fatal mistake while on a ladder or using heavy equipment."

In its annual economic report, President Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers wrote "curbing the opioid crisis is of critical importance for ensuring a stable or growing employment rate among prime-age workers."

Written by Heather Chapman Posted at 2/23/2018