Burying Utilities on 40th street in Tampa is discussed, then dismissed by Mitch E. Perry

04/06/06

In Tampa, work continues on improving 40th Street – a vast, extensive project estimated to cost $80 million dollars, broken down into 5 different segments, that has been called the city’s most ambitious public works project ever undertaken.

Today the subject of possibly burying power utility lines along the route was discussed, and then essentially buried after officials from Tampa Electric Company and some City Council members said such a plan would prolong the oft-delayed project.

In a letter sent out last week, TECO said that burying utilities could take 4 more years and cost at least 5 and a half million dollars to complete. As it stands now, the project is expected to be completed in 2009.

Temple Crest Civic Association President Terry Neal came before the Tampa City Council this morning to chastise what he called TECO’s inflated numbers (roll tape#1 o.q.�5 million dollar quote�)

Saying that he knows with what he speaks about, Neal also challenged TECO for including electrical Feeder Lines in their estimate, saying that 40th street doesn’t use such power line, but rather residential electric lines (roll tape#2 o.q.� is acquired�)

The idea of burying power lines has been discussed in Tallahasee this session, in the wake of the uproar in South Florida after the extensive delays in restoring electricity after Hurricane Wilma blew through the region last fall.

But power companies throughout the state have said that the cost would be prohibitive to do so... Florida Power & Light has said that putting every mile of its lines underground would cost between $55 billion and $80 billion, costing each customer thousands of dollars

It wasn’t hurricanes, but aesthetics that prompted Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena to suggest to Steve Dagnault, Administrator for Public Works and Utility Services for the city of Tampa, that the City team up with TECO to look into the costs of burying power lines on 40th street (roll tape#4 o.q.�to the block�)

Saul-Sena said she assumed such a study would take 6 weeks, and assumed it would not hold the project up. …But Dagnault said to Saul –Sena, not so fast (roll tape#5 o.q.’for that purpose�)

Councilman Sean Harrison said that nobody wants to see the long delayed project delayed, but didn’t think a study would delay the project (roll tape#6 o.q.�that TECO gave�)

But a spokeswoman for TECO, Stephanie Agliano, told the Council that burying power lines is hardly a simple or cheap procedure (roll tape#7 o.q.� it’s not real simple�)

And Agliano said that there would be many people affected by such a move in the community (roll tape#8 o.q.�part of that�)

But the momentum for any such study was then undercut by councilmembers Rose Ferlita and John Dingfelder, who both said it was unrealistic proposal (roll tape#9 o.q.� I’m done with this discussion�)

Florida Power & Light has said it would encourage cities and towns to bury their power lines by contributing to 25 percent of its costs. But on Tuesday, FPL told the Florida Public Service Commission it wants its customers to pay for the discount.

The PSC plans to discuss the issue during a workshop on April 17th.

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