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Twinsburg -- Motorists witnessed some interesting ground and aerial activity at Route 91 and Pinnacle Parkway Aug. 16, as FirstEnergy Corp. used a helicopter to string a 345,000-volt electrical transmission line across Route 91, then northwest to Glenwillow.
This local portion of a 115-mile, $133 million transmission line project represents the final 5.5-mile stretch of an undertaking that began in Beaver County, Pa., near the Ohio River, and now traverses northwest to a substation in the village of Glenwillow, according to FirstEnergy spokesperson Mark Durbin.
With the use of several skilled electricians and one skilled helicopter pilot, the utility company strung three separate heavy electrical cables around 4 p.m.
According to Durbin, the process is unique: A helicopter flies over a tower and drops a thinner cable in place on one of the arms; this thin cable then allows the thicker cable to be pulled from the ground and fed into place on the tower arm. The three larger cables on each of the three arms then constitute a circuit for 345,000 volts.
Using helicopters at each tower, the cables were then fed from the ground up, along the entire route. More than 11,000 feet of cable was used across 13 towers to get from Twinsburg to Glenwillow.
An electrical tower was already present at Route 91, as they are along the final path to Glenwillow, though only one set of "arms" on the towers had cables strung thus far; this phase added cables to the opposite sides of the towers.
Only recently, FirstEnergy used helicopters to pull the line across Interstate 480 between Route 91 and Frost Road, and the line also crossed Ravenna Road not far from the British American Club and a veterinary office.
The transmission line installation has already made its way through Columbiana County and Mahoning County, and recently crossed the Ohio Turnpike in Portage County, Durbin said.
"We want to minimize the impact as much as we can," Durbin said. "But it's an interesting project ... something people might not see every day."
The Beaver County to Glenwillow project is part of FirstEnergy's "Energizing the Future" initiative, a program designed to improve service reliability as power plants in the region are deactivated due to the high cost of complying with revised U.S. EPA standards, according to FirstEnergy officials.
FirstEnergy expects to invest approximately $500 million to $700 million during the next five years on other northern Ohio projects.