AEP poles have trustees concerned

CALCUTTA-ST. Clair Township Trustees have some concerns about an American Electric Power project – an electrical transmission line and pole upgrade – currently underway in the township.

At a meeting Tuesday, trustees discussed concerns about the potential danger posed by the newly-installed metal telephone poles, as well as damage done to township roads by the crews installing the poles.

In November 2013, AEP officials met with trustees to discuss the project and gain approval to replace a portion of power lines that run through township property. AEP representatives described the work as an infrastructure upgrade, which would replace 6.8 miles of old electrical transmission lines and poles from Calcutta to near Wellsville.

AEP representatives told trustees the purpose of the project was to raise power lines up and out of the tree line, thereby reducing possible power outages due to fallen trees. They explained the township’s current lines had been installed in the 1930s, and had since, in some places, been grown over by trees. To remedy the problem, AEP planned to install much taller metal transmission line poles in place of typical wooden, creosote-treated poles. The new metal poles are about 85-90 feet in height and 65 inches in circumference, as compared to the old wooden poles which measure 55-60 feet high and about 51 inches around.

At the time of the meeting, trustees approved a supplemental easement, allowing AEP to upgrade electrical infrastructure on township property. Trustees said at the time they believed upgrading the electrical infrastructure would benefit everyone in the long run. AEP officials assured the board they would be available during the project should any concerns arise on the part of trustees or township residents.

At Tuesday’s meeting, trustees said they had received several complaints from residents about the electric company’s activities near its make-shift material yard and staging area for the project – near Cedar Hills Golf Course in Glenmoor. Trustee Robert Swickard said residents had raised concerns about the company’s large trucks damaging the surrounding roads and being inconsiderate toward other motorist.

“Our 150 yards of road out there (by golf course) is getting beat up,” said Swickard.

Trustees also cited the upgraded metal poles as point of concern, due to their proximity to township roadways. Trustees noted if a vehicle were to collide with the metal poles, there would be no break-away factor as found in traditional wooden telephone poles. This issue was raised in trustees’ initial meeting with AEP officials, who said they would try to keep the new poles away from township right of ways, but may have no choice but place the poles along the road in some spots. Trustees noted that having AEP move the poles may not be a viable option because of the easement for the lines has already been determined, leaving the electric company with little room to relocate transmission line poles.

Trustees concluded their discussion of the issue by saying they would personally talk with AEP officials to seek a solution.

In other business: Police Chief Don Hyatt announced FirstEnergy’s Transmission Vegetation Management will be conducting aerial herbicide application in the area this week through Aug. 8. He said township residents should not be concerned if they see a low-flying helicopter near power lines.

The chief also advised motorist to be on the lookout, beginning Aug. 4, for construction on Bell School Road. DiPietro Excavating will be performing road widening and sanitary sewer relocation on Bell School for the new Beaver Local building construction.