If an open house held in Macedonia Thursday evening is any indication, FirstEnergy won't have much of a fight re-stringing high-powered lines from Western Pennsylvania more than a hundred miles west into Northeast Ohio.
About two dozen people attended the event in the cafeteria of Nordonia High School. It was one of the more well-attended opportunities for the public and local government officials to offer comments on the plan.
The utility plans to spend millions over the next two and a half years to rebuild, including parts of Portage and Summit Counties before terminating in Glenwillow just north of the Summit-Cuyahoga border. In addition to stringing new power line using 70% of it's existing inventory of towers, the power company expects to use existing rights-of-way that would minimize impact on the public, said company spokesman Todd Schneider. He also said planning is underway on a new substation that would serve northeast Ohio as coal-fired electric plants along the Lake Erie shoreline are closed.
Schneider says the rewiring is important to assure continued reliability of the utility's electric grid. That's the backbone of the electric distribution system that allows utilities to move power from region to region to serve and meet demand.
FirstEnergy Grid Upgrade by Akron NewsNow
State regulators need to approve the plan; it's part of FirstEnergy's power grid upgrades planned that would cost almost a billion dollars over the next five years across the utility's footprint extending from Ohio to New Jersey.
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FirstEnergy's 2012 annual shareholders meeting lasted only ten minutes in Akron Tuesday morning, with no address by chairman and CEO Tony Alexander.
Meanwhile more than 200 protestors demonstrated outside the Knight Center where the meeting was held.
FirstEnergy spokesman Todd Schneider tells AkronNewsNow the brief meeting was planned well in advance to avoid trouble. " If you look across the country, there have been demonstrations at large companies shareholders meetings. We're monitoring that activity, and planned for the same type of activity that happened at our shareholders meeting," says Schneider.
Schneider says Alexander's usual annual shareholders meeting address was also cancelled to defuse the confrontational situation . " We wanted to make sure that his address wouldn't be interrupted , so we thought it was the best thing to forego that part of the program and that's what we did."
Todd Schneider says some protestors still had their say. " Fortunately we we able to conduct our meeting without any interruption. We dismissed the meeting and then there were some protestors in the room that spoke out" says Schneider.
Listen to Todd Schneider comment on Tuesday shareholders meeting.
Many of the protestors were angry that they were not allowed to speak or question the company's policies and operations at the meeting.
Schneider says FirstEnergy tried to make sure the meeting didn't get out of hand.
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