Power Lines Hot Topic Heading Towards Hurricane Season

The hot topic at a Public Service Commission hearing in Tallahassee Friday was burying power lines and who should pay for it.

Florida Power and Light is proposing paying 25 percent of the cost of burying power lines if local governments will pick up the rest. South Florida cities came to say let’s get moving.

“Hurricane Wilma will be remembered for the impact it had in our state,” says Enrique Lopez, a technology consultant from Coral Gables, FL.

But the devil is in the details. FP&L told Alan Platner and 6,443 other homeowners in the BOCA Woods subdivision that their unincorporated area of Palm Beach is not eligible for the 25 percent offer.

“The essence is they’re discriminating against you because you’re really in an unincorporated area. I think that is something that is grossly unfair and has to be corrected. And we’re not gonna go away,” says concerned citizen Platner.

One new plan being floated would assess every new hookup, be it home or business, $1,000, with that money going to offset the cost of underground.

From the hearing, one thing is clear. The idea of burying lines and making other lines stronger is now on the front burner.

“I think everybody feels the pressure. I don’t think it’s just the utilities. I think the legislature, this commission and the utilities, combined, feel pressure,” says Kevin Bloom, spokesperson for the Public Service Commission.

But it is going to be months before any plan is even in place, leaving residents to cross their fingers with hopes of getting through this hurricane season with the light still on.

When the PSC develops rules for burying or hardening power lines, they will apply throughout the state, not just in Florida Power and Light territory.