AURORA — In light of recent disagreements with FirstEnergy over routing of proposed transmission lines, the city plans to take a look at the possibility of going into the electric business itself.

At its March 11 session, City Council adopted a resolution authorizing a request for qualifications from persons well-versed in electric utility issues, including advice about establishing a municipal electric utility.

"More than 80 cities in Ohio have their own electric utilities, including Hudson, Wadsworth and Painesville," said Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin. "I believe the city should explore the benefits and feasibility of that option, including possible cost savings, improved reliability and better customer service."

The consultant also would be available to advise the city on matters relating to its dispute with FirstEnergy.

"As we address FirstEnergy’s plans for our city, it has become increasingly evident that the city needs its own electric energy expert to advise us and help evaluate FirstEnergy’s assertions, both now and in anticipated litigation," she said.

"Obviously, FirstEnergy is motivated by self-interest in its responses to the city, and that only will increase if and when litigation is commenced. Therefore, it is appropriate for the city to retain its own electric energy expert."

The mayor said the resolution does not authorize the hiring of anyone or spending of any money at this time, just the collection of qualifications from specialists.

The mayor said when the RFQ process is completed, the administration will evaluate responses and return to Council with a recommendation.

The city is opposed to FirstEnergy’s plans to run a 69-kilovolt transmission line down the Norfolk Southern rail corridor from near Chamberlain Road to near Treat Road. Both entities are attempting to acquire the rail right-of-way.

Aurora wishes to acquire the corridor for public use, which could include creating a hiking-biking trail.

The resolution adopted by Council states FirstEnergy’s plans for the corridor will hurt property values and harm the character of neighborhoods and "will provide little to no benefits to residents of the city."

Reporter Ken Lahmers can be reached at 330-541-9400, ext. 4189 or klahmers@recordpub.com.