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City, LCEC hopeful for transmission line resolution downtown

By Staff | Oct 3, 2009

The 10-year debate over transmission lines through the Community Development Agency district will again be renewed on Monday night at the Cape Coral city council meeting.
City Council and LCEC are both hopeful that some type of resolution will be reached, but admittedly no one knows how things will turn out.
Council will not vote at Monday’s meeting, only discuss the long gestating saga.
Councilmember Eric Grill broached the power line subject several weeks ago during a city council meeting, saying that LCEC was going to bring a lawsuit against the city if something was not decided.
Grill will again broach the topic on Monday, saying that he’s frustrated by the whole process.
He strongly suggested the lines should be overhead, on the south side of Southwest 46th lane. Grill made the same suggestion several weeks ago.
“Here’s the reality … in theory it would be great to go underground, but no one has the money. Not the city, or the CRA,” Grill said. “People want this thing done.”
The relationship between LCEC and the CRA has been strained as of late, as both sides cannot come to terms with a funding mechanism to bury the power lines as the CRA proposes.
LCEC has long maintained that the new lines are necessary, whether they are buried or not, while the CRA says that over head transmission lines ultimately would hinder development in the CRA.
LCEC spokeswoman Karen Ryan said the electric co-op is “route neutral”, and that the new lines are badly needed.
She added that LCEC was not planning a lawsuit, merely litigation, if a decision cannot be reached.
“We hope it doesn’t come to that, but this line is critical,” Ryan said. “If they don’t make a decision, then we have to take the next step and take it to someone who can decide.”
The city is now hoping to protect itself from potential litigation from property owners along the proposed corridors where overhead lines are being eyed.
By claiming indemnity, the city hopes to pass that potential litigation onto LCEC.
Mayor Jim Burch, who also is the city liaison for the CRA, said even if the city is able to reach indemnity, the citizens of Cape Coral, and all LCEC ratepayers, will still have to pay.
“What happens when you put that line in and the property owners sue LCEC?” Burch asked. “Who’s going to to pay for lawsuit, it’s the ratepayer.”
CRA Executive Director John Jacobsen was unavailable for comment.
Cape Coral City Council will meet 4:30 p.m. on Monday in city council chambers.