CLEARWATER - The Island Estates Civic Association (IECA) is evaluating the feasibility of undergrounding utilities in the community.
Cleaning up the visual clutter by removing power polls and wires was considered about 10 years ago, but rejected because of insufficient support by property owners.
According to Board member Robert Longenecker, a new look at undergrounding was initiated by the IECA Board of Directors as an extension of their beautification efforts.
Jimmy Guzman, a Project Manager for Progress Energy, presented an overview of undergrounding at the IECA Town Hall meeting on February 21. He explained that undergrounding existing utilities is undertaken for esthetic reasons, eliminating poles and wires, and allowing trees to grow uninhibited.
But Guzman cautioned, "Underground is not always the most reliable system." He explained that although power outages are about 50% less frequent, their duration averages about 60% longer than with above ground power distribution systems. The longer outages result from the difficulty of finding the underground fault and the greater amount of time needed to affect a repair. He added that underground utilities in waterfront communities would be affected by flooding.
Cost is another concern, one that was well explored by questions from the 29 IECA members who attended the meeting. Guzman estimated the cost of converting to underground utilities at about $12,000 per lot, including the power, telephone and cable TV distribution systems. He estimated an additional $1,500 per lot to install the underground wires that deliver power from ground-level transformers to the home.
An undergrounding project on Island Estates would take two years to complete according to Guzman.
A show of hands indicated about 2/3 of those in attendance were interested in pursuing the project. Based on that result, Longenecker said, "I'd like to see us move ahead with a feasibility study."
Residents of Island Estates can send questions and comments on undergrounding to Frank Dame, IECA President, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We asked our readers, "Assuming a cost if $13,500 per single family home, would you support a project to place the utilities on Island Estates underground?" You responded:
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