Citizens to TECO: Bury power lines

02/21/08 Mitch E. Perry
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The city of Tampa is negotiating a new franchising agreement with the local power company, Tampa Electric. But the Sierra Club and other parts of the community want to delay approving a new 25-year agreement until TECO can adopt measures such as providing more progressive energy sources and installing underground power lines.

Tampa resident Darren Booth is upset with the current franchise agreement between the city and TECO. He said he has helped develop transmission lines in both the U.S. and Austrailia.

The issue has become more heated in South Florida, particularly after Hurricane Wilma in October 2005 knocked down lines and cut power for days in the community.

The Palm Beach Town Council late last year passed an ordinance that would have the state Legislature call for all Florida utilities to have a schedule to bury power lines.

In 2002, TECO estimated it would cost $10-million to convert about 2,500 homes and 200 businesses on Davis Islands to underground lines.

After hearing from the public, City Councilman Charlie Miranda said he was not opposed putting electric lines underground, but he had questions.

Citizen Jennifer Wilman said the city should re-up their contract with TECO for just five years, not 25.

The City Council voted to have a staff report on what to do with the next TECO contract and discuss it on March 20. They will hold another public hearing on TECO’s new franchise agreement on April 3.

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