By: Diane Emeott Korzen Contributing Writer
In a few designated neighborhoods around Boca Raton, Florida Power & Light (FPL) has begun under-grounding wires for better daily service and in the event of hurricanes.
To-date, one neighborhood located in Palm Beach Farms in Boca has been completed.
In February, homes a couple of streets south of Pine Breeze Park had the FPL wires removed from their backyards and buried into their front yards, along with a new transformer.
Next up, 107 homes located in the Boca Square neighborhood, where houses were constructed in the early 1960s.
This project area extends along Camino Real from west of 12th Avenue to 15th Avenue, approaching the I-95 overpass. The FPL project includes houses on both sides of Camino, plus a street behind.
Low performing neighborhoods that experience many outages are being targeted by Florida Power & Light for its Storm Secure Underground Program.
As of an end of March meeting with FPL representatives, more than 75 percent of approvals for this second project had been received, with additional approvals coming in weekly in April.
“All customers in the area that we are under-grounding must favor the project for it to move forward, “ said Senior Communication Specialist Jeff Ostermayer. “We are currently in the beginning stages of the project you mentioned [Boca Square], and still in the process of reaching out to customers to discuss the benefits of the program,” he said on April 15.
FPL’s under-grounding of wires takes two to three months for construction once all approvals are received, with completion for the Boca Square project expected by the holidays at the end of 2019.
After the under-grounding, AT&T/Comcast wires will remain above ground, although the shared utility pole may be reduced in size in some occasions. FPL is only removing its equipment from the pole, including the old transformer, cables and wires, and existing meters.
The old meters are being replaced with a more streamlined meter that was described as “looking like the old meter without the can.” FPL may need to retrofit meter enclosures with a meter base adaptor, to connect customers with the new underground equipment.
The actual under-grounding of wires is done via a directional boring machine. At designated intervals along a street, new transformers are placed under ground, with under-grounded wires connecting the neighbors to it.
FPL is bringing its Storm Secure Underground Program to select neighborhoods throughout its Florida service area – which covers more than half the state. FPL operates 75,000 miles of power lines in Florida.
Currently, about 60 percent of the wires that distribute power to residential customers and businesses remain overhead power lines. Only 40 percent are underground.
If your neighborhood is selected by FPL for its Storm Secure program:
FPL sends out information packets to affected homeowners, with forms requiring signatures.
To speed the approval process along, FPL has recently cross-trained its project coordinators as notaries, who go house to house, setting up appointments to answer any questions from individual homeowners, and then meet with them one on one to receive signed easement forms and get them notarized.
Another letter goes out to homeowners once all signatures are received.
Affected homeowners are expected to be without power for one to three hours while the undergrounding takes place – with advance notice given a couple of days out, according to FPL representatives.