A project to improve electric power capacity is underway on Columbus’ South Side, near the future site of a Google data center.
Known as the Parsons Avenue Transmission Project, the endeavor is aimed at improving electrical service for area residents and upcoming development, according to an American Electric Power Ohio official.
“That just means that we are bringing more power into the area,” AEP Project Outreach Specialist Brian Recker said. “It does allow for additional capacity, and so if there’s future developments in the area … the electric grid could accommodate that.”
Recker said the project will benefit both residents and a “future AEP customer” coming to the South Side, but he would not name the customer.
Two substations, one of them new, will be located just north of a $300 million Google data center being built on a portion of the former Hartman Farm, located on the east of South High Street, south of Rathmell Road, west of Parsons Avenue and north of nearby Scioto Downs. It is expected to be completed by the end of 2025 and employ 20 people.
Read more: Google to invest $1 billion, buy more land as part of Columbus region data center expansion
The project will remove five miles of electrical towers running from Marion Road to just south of the Rathmell and Parsons intersection. The towers will be replaced with three miles of modern electrical towers that will run from Interstate 270 to the Route 23 interchange, Recker said.
The towers will connect to the Parsons substation, located south of the Rathmell and Parsons intersection, and to the Cyprus substation that is currently being built farther south.
“That original line was kind of built in the 1920s, so it’s reached an age where it really needs to be addressed for future reliability,” Recker said.
How much will this project cost, and who pays the tab?
An April estimate pegged the capital cost of the project at $1.7 million.
The towers currently serving the area generate 40 kilovolts of power, which was the standard around the time of construction in the 1920s. The upgraded electrical towers will operate with 138 kilovolts, Recker said.
The upgraded electrical service will not lead to an increase in residential electric bills, AEP says.
The cost is factored into the larger infrastructure management plan and shared with the future client, according to Far South Side Area Commissioner Bruce Miller, who lives on Parsons and currently has an electrical tower in his front yard that will be removed as part of the project.
Read more: AEP Ohio intentionally shut off power to some Greater Columbus neighborhoods. Here’s why
The transmission line project will remove all electrical towers from residential lots within the work zone.
Construction began last fall and is expected to continue through the summer of 2023. The electric tower removal process will begin in 2023 after the Cyprus substation is completed.
Read more: Construction starts early for Google data center at former Hartman farm
Roads will be closed during the construction process, leading Miller to raise concerns about access to lots in the work zone, including residents’ homes, Buckeye Middle School and Columbus Fire Station 22.
However, Recker said AEP intends “work with the surrounding area to work on any type of road closures that are needed to ensure safety when we do take down the transmission line.”
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