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Photo: Courtesy of Winter Park - The utility line undergrounding project may be set back by half a mile if a 10-percent cut in funding goes through. The project was projected to take up to 15 year to finish.
Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, Mar. 24, 2016 1 year ago

Undergrounding slows down in Winter Park

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How to speed up the process
by: Tim Freed Staff Writer

Winter Park has fallen behind on its undergrounding efforts, but is there a better way to bury power lines?

A report card released by the city for the year 2015 shows that Winter Park has fallen short of its goal of 5 miles of undergrounding per year, only reaching just over 3 miles.

Winter Park showed consistency with its undergrounding in previous years, meeting the goal in 2014 and falling short of the goal by less than a quarter of a mile in 2013.

City spokesperson Clarissa Howard said the undergrounding has fallen behind due to multiple variables slowing the work down, including the design, coordinating with residents, whether the line needs to be buried beneath vegetation in a back or front yard, and running into more feeder lines, which are larger and require more time and materials to relocate

“In 2015 we ran into more of these variables that created less miles underground,” Howard said.

But change may be in the works to make the city’s undergrounding move faster. Winter Park last year hired Daniel D’Alessandro as the new electric operations manager. He will come before the City Commission next month to talk about how to make undergrounding more productive.

For the past three years, the city has been undergrounding power lines by following a “priority list,” which is based off of available funding at the time, design changes and other upcoming capital projects coming before the city.

“It’s been now three years in the works and so [D’Alessandro] has the benefit now of that information gathered,” Howard said. “He’s going to review that and see if there’s any efficiencies we can make.”

Winter Park first began its undergrounding in 2008 when the city buried a power line along Webster Avenue, three years after the city had acquired its own electric utility.

In 2008, Winter Park estimated it would take roughly 20 years to finish the undergrounding within the city.

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