Monday, March 26, 2018

FPL: Three current options for power lines

(Eds. note: Details about the comparative quantities of residential housing on each of the three main roadways for the power line options have been clarified and updated.)

This is quick summary of the March 26th meeting of FPL reps with the Bee Ridge neighborhoods at Laurel Oak regarding possible routes for new powerlines. For more on the plan, click here.

Each of the three possible routes would connect the Howard substation at Proctor by I-75 with the Bobwhite station at Lorraine Rd. on East Fruitville Rd. The project is deemed necessary to provide for present capacity in the area. Future construction, such as LT Ranch and Hi Hat Ranch, ultimately will add over 20,000 homes south of Clark Rd. and east of the Bee Ridge Extension, and will require further power installations at some point in the future, FPL spokesmen said.

Uwe Hinrichs chair of the Bee Ridge Neighborhoods Committee, opened the discussion by noting that representatives of more than a dozen communities had worked with Sarasota County for 15 years on the improvements to east Bee Ridge Rd. - widening, roundabouts, and low-impact landscaping were among the results that transformed East Bee Ridge into a quality thoroughfare. Hinrichs and others noted that this would be an unfortunate time to site tall power lines along Bee Ridge Rd.

Although FPL didn't ask for a show of hands or voice vote on which of three routes (shown below) is preferred, one man asked those who oppose siting the power line along Bee Ridge Rd. to raise their hands.

Pretty much every hand in the room went up.

The image below shows the three routes, but the Bee Ridge route shows two options at the right - east from Bee Ridge Extension. The FPL reps said the first choice had been for the route east of the extension to go north past Artistry, but after meeting with an unidentified advisory council made up of businesses, nonprofits, and residents (they declined to provide names of their council advisers), FPL decided to prefer the south option, going south of Rothenbach park, north of Misty Creek.

Lines will be 80-130 feet high
A woman from Aberdeen Pines noted that her research on Google Earth showed that the longest "footprint" for the power lines would be along the communities of Bee Ridge -- approximately 13,000 feet. On Clark, they would run by neighborhoods for 7,000 feet, and on Fruitville for 1,500 feet (or a little more if you count Sun 'n Fun).

To a question about the impact of tall power lines on property values, an FPL rep said that FPL studies show that the impact on the market for home sales and the values of homes was often "insignificant," eliciting a strong skeptical guffaw from the crowd.

Power lines typically might disrupt AM radio, but do not affect cellular service or FM transmissions, according to Daniel Hronec, an FPL engineer.

The ultimate decision on where the route goes is up to FPL and is not subject to higher approval. The company will decide by mid-year, said Rae Dowling, FPL manager for this area. More background here.

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