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Workers prepare to upgrade power lines beginning in Pine, running through Adams, Mars

| Wednesday, June 15, 2016, 9:00 p.m.

First Energy Corp. will begin working next month to upgrade approximately seven miles of transmission lines beginning at the Pine Substation and running through Adams and Mars.

An open house was held last Thursday at the Pine Community Center to allow the public to view plans for the project, which involves the installation of new 69-kilovolt transmission lines that, the company says, will enhance the reliability of service in Pine, Mars and Adams.

It is part of First Energy's “Energizing the Future” initiative, which was launched in 2012 as an effort to upgrade the company's transmission system.

Pine Manager Scott Anderson said the portion of the project in the township will involve the installation of new lines along an existing right of way, which First Energy spokesman Doug Colafella said will be the case for the majority of the work.

“This is essentially a rebuild of existing lines,” Colafella said. “We will be replacing existing utility poles and installing new 69 kV lines.”

One of the reasons for the upgrade, Colafella said, is the continued residential and commercial growth in the areas serviced by the line.

“Obviously this is a growing area, and as a result we are seeing increased demand on our system,” Colafella said.

He said some of the existing 69 kV lines are more than 40 years old.

“They are still functional,” Colafella said. “But the new lines will be more efficient and fit with our modernization plans. It will help us meet our goal of reducing the frequency and duration of power outages.”

Colafella said that, as much as possible, the new lines will be sited along existing utility rights-of-way to minimize the impact on the environment and surrounding property owners.

“Our goal is to do this with as little impact as possible for property owners,” Colafella said.

Existing utility poles will be replaced with new structures. The new poles will average between 80 and 90 feet in height, slightly higher than the existing ones.

The new ones will be able to accommodate higher voltage lines should the need arise in the future, Colafella said.

Colafella said tree clearing for the project is expected to begin in July, and construction will start in August. It is expected to be completed by Jan. 30, 2017,

Vince Townley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-772-6364 or vtownley@tribweb.com.

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