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The latest to join the power service reliability program at FirstEnergy Corp (FE - Analyst Report) is its ancillary Pennsylvania Electric Company (Penelec). Following Metropolitan Edison Company (Met-Ed), Penelec is also looking to speed up vegetation management activity in the state of Pennsylvania.

FirstEnergy has been an active participant in the vegetation management program, which entails trimming of tree-climbs in order to prevent damages to electric infrastructure during severe storms. Besides Met-Ed, Jersey Central Power & Light recently wrapped up major improvement work in northern and central New Jersey service areas after the hurricanes.

To date, the company has trimmed tree-climbs over 1,500 circuit miles and expects to prune a further 3,000 miles by the end of 2013. The overall capital spending for the vegetation project is set at $19.0 million for 2013. These initiatives will allow the company to offer smooth and stable services to its customers.

FirstEnergy intends to carry out the program in its service territories of Lain, Corry, Dubois, Erie, Franklin, Johnstown, Lewistown, Meadville, Millcreek, Nicktown, Northern Cambria, Oil City, Patton, Punxsutawney, Salix, South Fork, St. Benedict, Tunkhannock, and Warren.

The company’s constant focus to preserve its utility assets is commendable and has attracted a large number of customers to its services. It witnessed a sharp 42% year-over-year rise in customer footprint in the first quarter of 2013. We anticipate these efforts will go a long way to enhance FirstEnergy’s operations.

However, the country’s primary weather analyzing body National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ("NOAA") has predicted extremely heavy storms in the period Jun to Nov 2013. The vagaries of weather will surely test FirstEnergy’s power reliability initiatives.

Currently, FirstEnergy retains a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Utilities that are presently on a high in the energy market include Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) ALLETE Inc. (ALE - Snapshot Report), DTE Energy Company (DTE - Analyst Report) and Entergy Corp (ETR - Analyst Report).

Based in Akron, Ohio, FirstEnergy engages in the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity in the United States.

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