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CRA commits $1.9M for underground power lines

By Staff | Jan 30, 2009

In a unanimous 7-0 vote, Cape Coral Community Redevelopment Agency board members committed $1.9 million toward the installation of underground transmission lines in the CRA district during a meeting Thursday, but avoided designating the route to be used.
One possible route that received support from the CRA in the past was the “blue” route, in which overhead lines would stretch from a substation on Everest Parkway and Del Prado Boulevard and run south on Del Prado to Southeast 46th Street, and line Southeast 46th Street west to Coronado Parkway. Overhead lines would continue south on Coronado before converting to underground lines upon entering the CRA boundaries at Southeast 46th Lane.
About 40 people, many of whom live on Southeast 46th Street, attended Thursday’s meeting to oppose the proposed route.
“You’re going to forever alter my neighborhood,” said Rosemarie Verderico, who lives on Southeast 46th Street.
The Lee County Electrical Cooperative has been trying to develop a plan to connect the Everest substation to the substation located in the CRA on Southeast 47th Terrace for the past 10 years. LCEC officials say the lines are needed to provide reliability to the area and the city as a whole.
“The reliability issue of just the southeast Cape has now grown to the entire Cape,” said Rick Fuson, LCEC director of electrical operations.
Because one source feeds the CRA substation, it will take longer for power to be restored in the case of an outage, whereas the new lines would allow LCEC to reroute power through another substation while repair work is being done, Fuson explained.
LCEC has agreed to pay the cost for the installation of overhead lines, but the CRA has been resistant to overhead lines within its boundaries, saying the 77-foot tall transmission lines would prevent the kind of urban development that is the core of its mission.
“We don’t like them, we don’t want them,” CRA executive director John Jacobsen said of the overhead lines.
LCEC has asked the CRA to pay the difference between the cost to install underground lines and the cost of overhead lines, and presented the bids of three companies to install 1,750 feet of underground transmission lines based on the “blue” route.
General Cable came in with the lowest bid at $1.5 million, but was contingent on the market price of copper, which is used to make the lines. New River Electric offered a $2.3 million bid and Hypower’s bid came in at $2.7 million.
Other proposed routes include placing lines through the CRA along Southeast 46th Lane or Southeast 47th Terrace. The undergrounding of those routes, about 1.2 miles, would cost the CRA between $5.5 million and $7 million, according to the bids of the three companies.
CRA board members, who previously pledged $1.9 million to the project, demurred on the subject of choosing a route.
“We have to defer to the city council because it’s their city,” CRA Vice Chairman Don Heisler said.
The issue is scheduled to come before the city council during its regular meeting Feb. 9.