Don’t be surprised if you see crews in bucket trucks and a helicopter cutting branches near power lines in the Valley.

Ohio Edison is letting people that they’re spending $26 million to clear vegetation along 4,800 miles of road in northern Ohio this year to help prevent power outages.

The tree cutting program is designed to help keep power flowing to customers by helping to prevent tree-related outages, such as those that can occur during the spring and summer storm season.

"Trees are a leading cause of power outages, and we complete tree-trimming work each year to prevent tree-related outages during severe weather,” said Pat Mullin, Acting President of FirstEnergy's Ohio Operations.

Done on a four-year cycle, the trimming program includes inspecting vegetation near power lines to ensure trees are pruned to preserve the health of the tree while also maintaining safe clearances. Trees that present a danger or are diseased may be removed.

This year, the work is being conducted in the following Valley communities:

  • Columbiana County: Leetonia, Lisbon, and Salem
  • Mahoning County: Austintown, Boardman, Campbell, Lake Milton, Lowellville, Mineral Ridge, North Jackson, Struthers, and Youngstown
  • Trumbull County: Fowler, Girard, Hartford, Kinsman, McDonald, Parkman, Southington, Vienna and Warren

FirstEnergy says the vegetation management work is conducted by certified forestry experts under the company's direction.

Helicopters equipped with aerial saws began trimming trees in March to maintain clearances along hard-to-access transmission and distribution corridors throughout Ohio Edison's service area.

The aerial saw is typically deployed along transmission and distribution lines in areas that may be environmentally sensitive or inaccessible to bucket trucks and other vehicles.

FirstEnergy says the helicopter saws typically cover more area in a day than a ground crew might complete in a week. The saw also eliminates the risk of injury to workers using bucket trucks or climbing trees to cut limbs near high-voltage equipment.