Submitted by Chuck Klein, Brown County
When Duke Energy came calling to claim their easement rights to the high-voltage lines running across the back end of my 125-acre Brown County farm, one of the first things I did was contact the Ohio Farm Bureau to seek advice as to what rights I had. Our Farm Bureau was most helpful inasmuch as though they were adamant that I had to yield to the electric company’s right of access, I was entitled to a quid pro quo if Duke wanted to utilize any other portion of my land. In other words, Duke could use my gravel road and paths through the woods to their power line, but if they needed a staging area to store equipment and supplies, I was entitled to some form of trade-off.
Because the three sets of high-voltage lines were in a most inaccessible location and were on very rough terrain it was clear that Duke would need the 1-acre pasture behind my barns as a staging area. This was to be a major operation that ended up taking over four months to replace the 50+ year-old wooden poles with metal poles. The sad part is, these wood poles were in dangerous condition due to the number of woodpecker holes – some cavernous, connecting and completely through. Birds I saw nesting included the Pileated Woodpecker. Of course, if left alone the wood poles would eventually fall destroying the birds’ nests anyway.
The construction included installing four, 4-foot diameter culvert pipes and the grading to cover them in addition to paving my pasture with rock and gravel – up to 8-inches in thickness – so as to support huge tractor-trailer rigs and massive multi-axle dump trucks. The entertainment value alone was almost worth the inconvenience of suffering the construction. Sitting on a log with my son and grandson at the woods line between two sections of poles, we spent hours watching a virtual hi-wire, three-ring circus – an enhanced mechanical ballet. This mesmerizing choreography of slowly swinging booms amid telescoping cranes with wires and ropes swaying all the while ground-level bulldozers, Bobcats and huge 6×6 trucks jockeyed for position. The only thing missing: Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.
The quid-pro-quo was: in exchange for the use of my field, Duke would fill the ruts in a 75-yard portion of one of my dirt roads with new rock. Things didn’t work out exactly that way. After Duke covered my pasture with heavy gravel, I contacted them indicating that they only had the “use” of the field. The bitumen-like covering, if left in place, would permanently devalue my property. The Duke representative immediately concurred and assured me they would remove the material upon completion of the job. Realizing the cost of hauling it away would be significant, I suggested laying the used rock and gravel over the entire trail (about 1/4 mile long) rather than supplying new rock for the 75-yard agreed portion. Again, a quid pro quo deal was struck and, true to their word, I now have a all-weather road instead of a dirt trail.
The workers did a great job and from what I saw it was done most proficiently; especially impressive because the crews faced extreme weather and topographical challenges. Their efficiency makes me pleased to be a Duke stock holder. I can’t think of a better description of the work and workers who returned my property to better condition than before the work began than to say: The Duke employees and their contractors not only did what they said they’d do when they said they’d do it, but they went the extra mile. And, a thanks to Ohio Farm Bureau – its guidance and expertise gave me the confidence to deal with this mega corporation.
Kamp Klein Farm
Georgetown, Brown County, Ohio