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LCEC pushes for decision on power line route in Cape

By Staff | Jun 18, 2009

Lee County Electric Cooperative officials are looking for a decision from the Cape Coral City Council on where to place a transmission line in the downtown area that would connect a substation on Everest Parkway to a substation on Southeast 47th Terrace.
LCEC, which has been trying to put up the line for more than 10 years, agreed in April to wait 18 months before beginning construction and to give the city and the Cape Coral Community Redevelopment Agency until December to develop a way to fund the cost of underground lines.
LCEC will pay to install overhead lines, but expects alternative funding to pay for the more expensive underground lines. A rough LCEC estimate for one possible route — Southeast 47th Terrace — puts the cost of underground lines at $4.5 million, or about $4 million more than the cost of overhead lines.
In a memo last week, LCEC urged the city to decide on a route, if not a funding mechanism, in August.
LCEC officials said they expected a timeline for progress to be in place by June 8 — the date of the city council’s last meeting before taking a five-week hiatus — which did not happen.
“Actually what (Mayor Jim Burch) proposed was that we would have a signed agreement or a timeline by June 8,” LCEC spokesperson Karen Ryan said.
Burch, who brokered the April agreement with LCEC, said there was no concrete date set for a route decision, but added that the issue could still be on the city’s agenda by August.
“There was no firm date set forward for that as far as I recall,” he said.
Burch and CRA officials claim that LCEC is holding up progress on a study to determine where the line should go and who should pay for the cost of overhead lines.
A request from Real Estate Research Consultants, a firm hired by the CRA to conduct the study for LCEC’s underground bids along various routes, was denied by the nonprofit electric cooperative.
“I don’t see why August is out of the question as long as (LCEC) provides the information the consultant is looking for,” Burch said.
Ryan claimed that the specific bids contain sensitive information, but that the results of the bids were presented to the city council in March.
“There is some intellectual property in those bids. Those bids have long since expired. We presented them at a city council meeting,” she said.
CRA officials said the bids are needed to verify the cost of undergrounding and to finish the consultant’s study.
“We are truly befuddled as to why they don’t want to give them to us,” said CRA Executive Director John Jacobsen said.