OPSB holds public hearing on proposed Trent-Vassell project
By LENNY C. LEPOLA
News Assistant Managing Editor
The Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) held a public hearing Monday evening at the Big Walnut High School Auditorium to hear public concerns about the Trent-Vassell 138 kV Transmission Line Project. The Trent-Vassell Transmission Line would connect the Vassell Substation east of Sunbury, now under construction, to American Electric Power’s existing Trent-Delaware 138kV Line.
American Electric Power’s Vassell Substation is being built on 265 acres adjacent to the village of Sunbury owned by AEP. The Vassell Substation will be built in three components. The largest component will be a transmission substation for 765 kV lines coming in, the second will service 345 kV, and the third will be for 138 kV.
The Trent-Vassell 138 kV Transmission Line travels roughly south from Centerburg Road (County Road 48) crossing North Old 3-C Highway, Ohio 3/US 36, and Ohio 37. AEP’s preferred route is 2.7 miles long, the alternate route 3.1 miles.
OPSB Administrative Law Judge Katie Stenman conducted Monday’s hearing. In addition to township residents living adjacent to the power line route, Delaware County Commissioner Dennis Stapleton attended the hearing, as well as state representatives Andy Brenner and Margaret Ann Ruhl, and Berkshire Township Trustee Bill Holtry.
Only two residents living near the power line route spoke during the hearing. Hartford Road resident Douglas Smith, speaking for both himself and his wife Marcella, said the proposed power line will run along the entire length of his property line, lowering the value of his home, altering the view from his deck and posing a potential health hazard.
Joe Walker Road resident Linda Rinehart had previously been before the Ohio Power Siting Board when public hearings were held at Sunbury Town Hall to hear public concerns about the Vassell Substation. Bill and Linda Rinehart live on five acres near the Vassell Substation site.
“AEP says they’re not going to pay us for our declining property values, even though they’re building a $265 million health hazard in our back yard,” Rinehart said. “They would be responsible if they bulldozed our house down, but they say they’re not responsible for our house losing half its value.
“This is the biggest substation in Ohio, possibly the biggest in the United States, and they say they’re not responsible,” Rinehart continued. “One thing I’ve learned from this whole process is that AEP is way to big and powerful. They pretty much do what they want, when they want to, and nobody can stop them.”
Rinehart said she and her husband intend to stop using AEP as an electricity provider, and will encourage others to do the same.
“And all you people are wasting your time with the Ohio Power Siting Board; they have not mentioned one time about our property values going down,” Rinehart said. “They told AEP that they must mitigate all or any complaints and come up with a solution, but, of course, this does not include declining property values.
“And the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio should change their name to The American Electric Power Agency, because they are not there to help the public,” Rinehart added. “Aren’t we the public? Aren’t we the ones that live a hundred feet from all of this?”
An adjudicatory hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, May 16, at the OPSB Columbus offices. The OPSB will issue a ruling in the case during the summer.