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Hearings to be held on 60-mile power line

The Ohio Power Siting Board will hold public hearings next week on a proposed 60-mile, high-voltage utility line that may require some area residents to grant easements to their properties.

First Energy Corp. wants to build the power line from Clark County to Delaware County. But a final decision won’t be made until after the siting board listens to public comments on the project on Monday and Tuesday and then holds an adjudicatory hearing Jan. 23.

The preferred route in Clark County begins at the East Springfield substation near Columbus Avenue and the Bon Air Mobile Home Park, according to documents obtained by the Springfield News-Sun.

The utility line continues across Ogden Road through a vacant field, cuts across Old Columbus Road to Tuttle Road and then travels down East Main Street before connecting to an existing power line near California Avenue.

Tim Suter, an area manager at FirstEnergy, said 90 percent of the project will be along existing right of way, but added that officials will need to work with residents to secure easements from other residents along the route.

Suter said residents most effected will be those near Walmart between U.S. 40 and Columbus Road.

Patti Michel, a FirstEnergy spokeswoman, said the project will improve service for customers.

“It’s going to continue to ensure the reliable electrical service for our customers,” Michel said

The project involves stringing a 138,000-volt power line on 80-foot steel and wood poles from the East Springfield substation to a Delaware County substation.

Clark County residents have not objected to the project, but early proposed routes were previously panned by Delaware County residents.

They feared their property would decrease in value or be taken by eminent domain to make way for the new utility lines.

Concord Twp. resident Dr. Tom Prestera formed and has a petition with more than 1,200 signatures of people opposed to earlier versions of the project.

After reading the energy company’s application, Prestera said the group supports the preferred route the company has selected.

“They have chosen their preferred route, which will follow existing utility corridors and spare the confiscation of new right of ways on private properties. Our community supports this route since it confines the proposed line to existing corridors through most of its course through Concord Twp.,” Prestera said.

Suter said the Ohio Siting Board could make a decision on the project in March or early April.

If approved, construction could begin soon after and the project is expected to be completed in June 2014, he said.

The first public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. Monday at the Pleasant Valley Fire Department, 650 W. Main St. in Plain City. The second public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday at London City Council Chambers, 6 E. 2nd St. in London.

An evidentiary hearing will be held at 10 a.m. Jan. 23 at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, 180 E. Broad St. in Columbus.

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