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Hearing open to the public

Tom Jackson • May 19, 2014 at 10:00 AM

FirstEnergy has altered the proposed route of a 30-mile-long power transmission line that will stretch from Fremont to near Sandusky.


The change happened in response to protests against the original plan, which would have sliced through a historic farm property had it been followed.

If anyone is still unhappy with the revised route, he or she still has a chance to speak up at a public hearing scheduled Wednesday.

As required by regulators — the Ohio Power Siting Board — FirstEnergy filed a proposed route for the line, and also has turned in a proposed alternate route. A map of the routes is available at the board’s website, opsb.ohio.gov. (Look at the list of “Pending Cases” under the “Siting Cases” tab at the top of the page.)  

The 138-kilovolt electric transmission line, which will be strung largely on wooden poles, will run from the Hayes Substation, currently being built near Sandusky at Ohio 4 and Fox Road, to the West Fremont Substation.

The line stirred controversy last year when it was announced. The original route was to run through Peninsular Farms, a 480-acre spread just north of Fremont along the Sandusky River. The farm is the site of a historic early settlement in Ohio and has been a location for bald eagle nests.

A FirstEnergy spokesman, Mark Durbin, said Friday the long process in Ohio of finding the best route for power lines provides periods of time for public comments. When people complained about the initial route, FirstEnergy took those comments into account, Durbin said.

“You want to have a route that has the least amount of impacts” he said.

The meeting on Wednesday was set up to allow for more comments, he said.

“Anybody who wants to can show up at this hearing and also let their feelings be known” he said.

State Rep. Rex Damschroder, R-Fremont, who had denounced FirstEnergy’s initial route, said Friday the power company has now chosen a more reasonable route by running much of it along the Ohio Turnpike.

“Running it along the turnpike already has a commercial area and right of way, rather than running it through a unique historic property that’s one of a kind in Ohio,” Damschroder said.

The line no longer goes through Peninsular Farms, he said.

“It’s running near but not right across the farm” he said.

Anytime a power company uses eminent domain to acquire a route for a transmission line, complaints are inevitable, Damschroder said.

“Nobody wants power lines to go through their private property,” he said. “All we can do is mitigate the simplest, easiest route”

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