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FirstEnergy Inc.’s (FE - Analyst Report) string of vegetation management programs are in full swing with its subsidiary Potomac Edison announcing that its vegetation management program is progressing well.  It is currently conducting these programs in the service territories of Western Maryland and the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.

To date, the company has successfully cut down tree climbs over 1,200 circuit miles of power lines and estimates to complete a further 1,400 miles by the end of 2013. The entire project is projected to cost around $17 million.

Side by side, another FirstEnergy ancillary Mon Power is also running vegetation management projects in 34 counties in north-central West Virginia. These initiatives are aimed at pruning tree-climbs in order to prevent damage to electric infrastructure during severe storms and thereby improving service quality.

In addition, FirstEnergy’s operating wings, Pennsylvania Electric Company and Metropolitan Edison Company are also advancing well with their respective vegetation control programs in Pennsylvania. These companies are expected to shell out roughly $19 million and $15 million, respectively.

In the summer months, FirstEnergy will carry on its vegetation management tasks in the Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, Montgomery and Washington countryside in Maryland, and Berkeley, Grant, Hardy, Hampshire, Jefferson, Mineral and Morgan in West Virginia.   

FirstEnergy’s diligent efforts to preserve its assets will contribute to smooth power delivery which in turn will help retain its customer base. These ongoing programs might lead to additions of new customers to its service list.

Meanwhile, we expect the strength of the FirstEnergy’s transmission lines will be put to test as the primary American weather tracking body National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ("NOAA") has projected extremely heavy storms in the coming months.

FirstEnergy currently maintains a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). However, other utilities that warrant a look are Zacks Ranked #2 (Buy) ALLETE Inc. (ALE - Snapshot Report), DTE Energy Company (DTE - Analyst Report) and Dynegy Inc. (DYN - Snapshot Report).

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

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