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Public offers input on path of new power line

Nicole Burfiend, a GIS specialist with AECOM, an environmental and infrastructure consulting firm, looks at an interactive map of Youngstown during an open house Wednesday at the Tyler History Center in Youngstown to gain public input on a proposed 6-mile power line. connecting substations in Youngstown and Campbell.

YOUNGSTOWN — Several agencies took public input in an early step toward determining what route a proposed 6-mile, 138-kilovolt power line will take.

“We will be acquiescing to the public’s concerns,” Scott Humphrys, a supervisor with FirstEnergy, said.

Humphrys and representatives from AECOM, a FirstEnergy subsidiary, were at a two-hour open house Wednesday to gather people’s comments and feedback regarding several proposed routes the transmission line could take to connect the Riverbend and Lincoln Park substations in Youngstown and Campbell.

The project also would upgrade the Riverbend substation to a more advanced design to help decrease the frequency and duration of power outages. In addition, it would mean upgrades to the Lincoln Park station to accommodate the new line, according to FirstEnergy.

American Transmission Systems Inc., another FirstEnergy subsidiary, redesigned the possible routes such a line could take before FirstEnergy officials in April 2023 gave information to the city regarding the project.

About two years ago, the Ohio Power Siting Board rejected the original project location, based largely on the public’s opposition to it. Many people objected because it would have entailed high-tension power lines running north of the Mahoning River, in full view of downtown and behind the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheater, Wean Park and the Covelli Centre. That idea, if adopted, also would have ruined the view and aesthetics, many complained.

The informal meeting Wednesday gave attendees an opportunity to visit an array of tables on which was information pertaining to the project as it related to the route selections, as well as the real estate, vegetation management, engineering, construction and environmental aspects.

Humphrys outlined four possible routes the line could take that were labeled alternative options A, B, C and D. All four would take the line through certain common routes, which are areas for which no alternative deviations exist, based on routing studies, he said.

Options A and B would route the line along or near Woodland Avenue south of the Mahoning River and would join with option C near Poland Avenue, from which option C would take the line along Park Drive, McCartney Road, Lamar Avenue and Oak Street Extension, all on the East Side, before connecting to the Lincoln Park substation. In addition, option A would include property that the Ohio Department of Transportation owns off South Avenue, Humphrys said.

“A and B are important, since the line would be out of sight from downtown,” he said.

The fourth option would have the power line in a zig-zag pattern through a common route, then along the Center Street Bridge and to Keystone Street before it joins with McCartney Road, then follows the same route as option C.

All possible routes for the transmission line “will be carefully evaluated to avoid potentially sensitive areas and minimize impacts to landowners and the community,” American Transmission Systems said in a statement.

More than a year was spent devising the alternatives to the rejected initial project, Humphrys said. He added that a second public meeting will be based on what was gleaned from Wednesday’s gathering, though he was unable to provide a date for it.

Julie Graham-Price, the siting board’s community liaison, said Wednesday’s meeting was in the proposed project’s early stages. A public hearing will take place about six months after the second meeting, she said.

The standard application process to the OPSB entails numerous processes before the proposed project can come to fruition.

They include submitting a certificate application followed by a compliance review. An initial public notice will be within 15 days of an accepted application, then within a few months, a second public notice will be held one to three weeks prior to another public hearing before the board’s decision to issue or deny the certificate.

The two substations serve about 15,000 customers combined, Will Boye, a FirstEnergy spokesman, said.

Have an interesting story? Contact the newsroom by email at news@vindy.com. Follow us on X, formerly Twitter, @TribToday.

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