Fight to halt power line

This land is their land – Ogles on a hike
ROCKBRIDGE, Ohio — Charles and Melanie Ogle have lived happily off the power grid for 17 years in their solar-powered log home perched on a ridge in the Hocking Hills.

They don’t want or need electric lines, but it seems that a power line is about to be strung outside their house anyway.

The Ogles are fighting a plan by American Electric Power to take some of their land by eminent domain to build an overhead electric line to power a telecommunications tower that the utility is building about 1,500 feet south of their house.

A judge already ruled that the project is a necessity and that the company has the right to take their land. A trial is scheduled to begin today in Hocking County Common Pleas Court to decide the compensation that the company must pay the Ogles for taking their frontage along Donaldson Road, measuring 1,500 feet long by 30 feet wide.

The Ogles rejected AEP’s offer of $4,000. It’s not about the money, the couple said. It’s the principle.

AEP says it needs to build the 350-foot telecommunications tower so its workers can communicate with each other by radio in the hills. Construction has started.

“There are pockets where we have blacked-out communications, and we need to improve that system,” company spokesman Jeff Rennie said.

51xlkhxadml-_sl160_-6325887The Ogles say the line should be built underground.

Building a line underground is more expensive. The cost can run about $750,000 to $800,000 per mile in a simple field and higher in a wooded area, compared with the above-ground cost of about $50,000 per mile, Rennie said.

The Ogles, both 46, say their view has changed considerably since 1991, when they built their 2,000-square-foot log home on 88 acres of land that once belonged to Mrs. Ogle’s grandmother. Back then, the only tower visible from their mailbox belonged to WLGN, the Logan radio station. Now, the Ogles say, on a clear night they can count the blinking red lights of 19 more towers stretched in all directions.

The Ogles, who countersued AEP when the utility sued them for the eminent-domain rights, estimate they have spent nearly $35,000 in legal fees. She works as a secretary in a law office, and he is a foreman at the General Electric glass plant in Logan.

The Ogles built their home themselves using a mule to drag the jack pine logs out of the woods. They planned to get commercial electricity, they said, but balked when AEP quoted a price of $440 a month for the first four years and $220 a month afterward as the billing costs to build a line on the isolated ridge.

Instead, they bought solar panels, which charge the batteries that power their appliances and compact fluorescent light bulbs. Natural gas heats the house and water, and also runs their stove and refrigerator.

“You have control of it in your hands,” Mr. Ogle said. “You’re not at the mercy of AEP.”

3 Responses

  1. I believe, they did the Ogles wrong That is there land to do as they wish, between Aep and Hocking County they are treating these people wrong, I respect them for standing up for what is theirs! Hocking County use to be nice, but it is not that great anymore, the caves have got trashed up, and they let companies come in and take over, Hocking county is not for there community at all, they dont stand behind people here , i say this out of personal experience, my family was suppose to inherit, and cabin and 135 acres in rockbridge and the gas company took it all, slpit up the acres and sold them all off for money in there pocket, this happen in 82, my parents didnt have the money to fight back, and my mother had health problems, we had a copy of the will and they destroyed the real one, i miss my home place it was the only place that felt like home. So I know what these people are feeling.

  2. What a sad sad story! Hocking Hills is the most beautiful, seemingly nautral place I’ve ever seen. It is really Ohio’s Paradise. The LAST thing it needs is more industry. Pleople go there to relax, and the Ogle’s are living a life I can only dream of. I wish them luck in fighting AEP, because they are a powerhouse in the area, and tend to get what they want at the expense of the environment. I’d be more interested in learning about the Ogle’s, their cabin, and how they’re making it work out there.

  3. What a story! I feel for the Ogle’s, who’s property is being altered because of the “need” for powerlines. Unfortunately, they probably have a very small voice compared to the power company who feels that they have to place their lines right there. Since being off-grid is a minority in this country, one would be hard pressed to find other people to stand up and fight for the Ogle’s cause. I will be interested to see the outcome of this. I hope that the Ogle’s are keeping good notes and also a photojournal of the destruction the power company is doing. It will be interesting to see how the land recovers. -Lisa (onthefox.blogspot.com)

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