Another public-utility project is planned for German Village this fall.

American Electric Power Ohio will replace 30 wooden utility poles on Jaeger Street between East Whittier and Jackson streets.

The increase in height of the poles from 45 feet tall to 55 feet, is necessary to meet current National Electric Safety Code standards, said Karen Salajko, AEP spokeswoman.

"Going higher is going to give us clearance from those trees," she said.

The Ohio Department of Transportation's rebuilding of the Front Street bridge, as part of the Interstate 70-Interstate 71 interchange project, requires the removal of the two circuits that provide power to German Village customers, Salajko said.

As a result, AEP will need to transfer those customers to another substation on Mound Street. To accommodate the change in the flow of electricity, the provider plans to upgrade infrastructure along Jaeger.

Shiloh Todorov, executive director of the German Village Society, said local officials were caught off-guard by AEP's announcement, which was made during a July 11 public meeting about the freeway interchange project.

"I just wish -- especially given our recent tangles with utilities -- that we'd have known AEP was presenting on this topic before (July 11)," Todorov said.

Other utility work

Todorov was referring to a gas-line and meter replacement effort by Columbia Gas of Ohio, which affects 112 residential and business customers. It is expected to be complete by September.

The German Village Society has been fighting the meter relocation from inside to outside homes and asked the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to put a halt to the work while an independent study is done on the issue. A decision about the society's request had not been made as of July 24.

Officials with Columbia Gas said the relocation of the meters is necessary because of safety and convenience for the customer.

Power outages

Meanwhile, in addition to the replacement of utility poles, AEP will add four metal self-supporting poles: two at Jaeger and Beck streets and two at Jaeger and Sycamore streets. They are required because there is a lack of space to properly anchor the new poles, Salajko said.

The basis for the project along Jaeger is the replacement of three primary voltage conductors with larger conductors.

Salajko said the German Village portion is expected to be complete in 90 days.

It's part of an overall $4.8 million project that will result in the replacement of 90 utility poles in the area.

Moving utility lines underground would have been cost- prohibitive and would result in digging up brick streets and possibly yards in the area, she said.

"Our standard form of construction is overhead and our rates and tariffs are based on overhead construction," Salajko said.

"Replacing our facilities underground would be two to four times as costly, and those costs would be socialized across our ratepayers."

Outreach planned

Customers will be notified prior to power outages, Salajko said. Notification of the work will be sent either through mail, email or automated phone calls, and AEP officials have pledged to stay in touch with village and city officials.

"We always work to minimize the number of outages during a construction phase," she said.

"Small outages will be necessary for our crews to safely transfer our customers to the new facilities.

"We will notify customers prior to the outage taking place through automated voice messages."