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Project profiles and updates for electrical transmission and distribution projects taking place around the world.

Winter Park buries power lines in project that may last 17 years

As a way to increase system reliability and also to beautify the area, Winter Park, Florida is working on a long-term project to bury power lines underground.  Winter Park buries power lines in project that may last 17 years.

9:41 p.m. EST, May 20, 2012|By Anika Myers Palm, Orlando Sentinel

The Winter Park of 2029 will look different from today’s city in at least one big way: Most of the city won’t have power poles or overhead electrical lines.

For the next 17 years or so, crews will be digging up streets and burying cables in a $70 million effort to beautify the city and make it less vulnerable to the power failures that occur when storms blow down lines.

City officials say the change has been welcomed by residents of Winter Park, where tree-lined streets, a point of civic pride, can be marred by power lines.

“The city did a survey, and the vast majority of citizens wanted utilities underground,” said Jerry Warren, director of the Winter Park Electric Utility Department.

So far, about 79 miles of electrical cables have been buried. That number includes subdivisions and condominiums built with underground lines from the start.

That leaves another another 79 miles to go, said Warren, whose office is coordinating contractors who are burying cable. The project is funded by profits from the utility, formed in 2005 when residents voted to break away from Progress Energy. The utility manages electrical service but buys power from other utilities.

Most of the “undergrounding” has occurred along main thoroughfares. Residents have two choices: They can wait for the city to get around to burying the wires on their streets, which could take a decade or more; or they can be part of what the city has called its “plug-in program,” which allows residents to share the cost of burying the wires on their street with the city. The plug-in option is less popular, Warren said.

Other municipal utilities have underground wiring, but Winter Park’s effort to bury cables that are still overhead is unusual. In Orlando, 1,181 miles, or about 61 percent of the city’s power lines, are underground, said Orlando Utilities Commission spokesman Tim Trudell, and there are no plans to bury overhead wires.

About 60 percent of the lines in Kissimmee, which also owns its utility, are underground, but that city isn’t burying its overhead lines either, said Kissimmee Utility Authority spokesman Chris Gent.

Winter Park’s project could be finished sooner if the city were to take out a loan.

“If we did, we think we could underground the balance in eight years,” Warren said. Going into debt for the project isn’t likely, though. Residents haven’t been enthusiastic about the idea — and it’s not what Mayor Ken Bradley wants.

“I don’t believe in borrowing money for that purpose,” Bradley said. “I believe that we should use the proceeds of the utility to continue this undergrounding.”

Even cable-TV wires, which also use power poles, could go away.

Bright House Networks, which offers cable service in the city, will have the right to buy poles affecting its lines, city officials said. However, Bright House spokesman Donald Forbes said the company is working with the city to run its lines underground.

Whether the project is complete in less than a decade or takes the full 17 years, it’s important for Winter Park, Bradley said.

“If money was no object, we would do it in eight years,” he said. “But we will be very judicious to complete the next wave of undergrounding to accomplish both reliability and aesthetics.”

apalm@tribune.com or 407-420-5022

Additional information on the undergrounding of power lines in Winter Park can be found here:  http://www.cityofwinterpark.org/2005/depts/UndergroundingPresentation.pdf

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PECO to Invest in Underground Cable Upgrade

PHILADELPHIA, Apr 26, 2012

PECO will invest approximately $3.2 million this year to replace and perform preventative maintenance on about 19 miles of underground cable that delivers electricity to thousands of residential customers across the region.

About $3 million will be spent to replace 14 miles of underground cable this year. Work has already been completed to inject about five miles of underground cable with silicone gel designed to fill and seal any cracks that may have developed in the cable’s insulation. This $200,000 project is expected to reduce the potential for cable malfunctions and service interruptions to customers.

“By continuously monitoring our electric system’s performance, including the performance of our underground cable, we are able to identify key opportunities to improve service for our customers,” said Eric Helt, vice president of Electric Operations. “Preventative maintenance, upgrading and replacement of our equipment are crucial to providing customers with safe and reliable service every day.”

Underground cable replacement and preventative maintenance are part of PECO’s overall program to ensure safe and reliable electric service for PECO’s 1.6 million electric customers. Each year, the company conducts regular maintenance and inspection of equipment to identify opportunities to improve performance. The company has been lauded as one of Pennsylvania’s safest and most reliable electric and natural gas service providers and has received numerous industry awards for its efforts.

Based in Philadelphia, PECO is an electric and natural gas utility subsidiary of Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC). PECO serves 1.6 million electric and 494,000 natural gas customers in southeastern Pennsylvania and employs about 2,400 people in the region. PECO delivered 82.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas and 38.1 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2011. Founded in 1881, PECO is one of the Greater Philadelphia Region’s most active corporate citizens, providing leadership, volunteer and financial support to numerous arts and culture, education, environmental, economic development and community programs and organizations.

SOURCE: PECO

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Chino Hills resolution to underground 500-KV powerlines to be negotiated

May 4 – McClatchy-Tribune Regional News – Canan Tasci San Bernardino County Sun, Calif.

Confidential settlement negotiations on alternatives for a 500 kilovolt power line route in Chino Hills have started among California Public Utilities Commission, Southern California Edison and city officials.

CPUC officials on Thursday announced the talks will include discussions about undergrounding the line beneath an existing right-of-way in the city. The line is part of the $2.1 billion Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project that travels through a five-mile stretch of Chino Hills and aims to carry wind-generated electricity from Kern County to the Los Angeles Basin. Chino Hills officials and residents have expressed public safety concerns about the project, which runs through several neighborhoods in the city.

“All of us at the CPUC are hopeful these negotiations, with the active involvement of our general counsel, will be successful and produce an outcome that satisfies the concerns of the citizens of Chino Hills, while fulfilling the transmission needs of SCE and its renewable energy suppliers,” CPUC President Michael R. Peevey said in a news release.

Chino Hills officials said they felt confident Thursday’s decision could lead to the burying of the power lines, which would be carried by 200-foot-high towers.

“We are encouraged by the fact that negotiation announced today represent an effort by CPUC, Edison and the city to agree upon underground lines within the existing right-of-way in the city,” Chino Hills Mayor Art Bennett said.

“We are encouraged by that, but, obviously, there are many particulars of the proposed process that need to be worked out and those are very confidential at this point in time.”

The Tehachapi project is part of a state mandate to use more sustainable energy. It was approved by the PUC in 2009.

On, the PUC ordered Edison to stop construction work in Chino Hills on the project in response to the filing of an “Application for Rehearing and Motion for Partial Stay” by the city.

Some transmission poles and towers have already been installed by Edison on Chino Hills’ western border near Tonner Canyon.

City officials and members of Hope for the Hills, a grassroots group that has protested the above-ground project, have advocated building the project underground or through neighboring Chino Hills State Park.

The city has spent more than $2 million fighting the project as originally planned by Edison.

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Pacific Gas and Electric’s Meadow Vista dig to bury power lines – Auburn Journal

PG&E’s Meadow Vista dig to bury power lines – Auburn Journal.

Another project in Northern California to underground power lines.

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Estherville – Conversion of overhead wires to underground system continues – EsthervilleDailyNews.com | News, Sports, Jobs, North Central Iowa, Emmet County — Estherville Daily News

Underground system upgrades in Iowa.

Estherville – Conversion of overhead wires to underground system continues – EsthervilleDailyNews.com | News, Sports, Jobs, North Central Iowa, Emmet County — Estherville Daily News.

From the article:  “We have had a few weather-related calls,” said Eveleth. “All of these will continue to decrease as more of our system is converted to underground.”

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Underground electric lines coming to Independence, MO

New underground power project in Missouri.

Underground electric lines coming to Independence.

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Wauwatosa City Officials in Support of Undergrounding of New Power Lines

Interesting article about some of the reasons that cities look to put power lines underground.

Official Opposition Lining Up Against Power Lines Along Parkway

Neighbors of proposed power line want it buried

Wauwatosa city official to seek support for undergrounding of new power lines | TransmissionHub. (Registration Required)

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Controversy Sparked Over Transmission Lines – MauiWeekly.com | News, information, serving Maui, Hawaii weekly — The Maui Weekly

Interesting article about some of the struggles associated with putting power lines underground.

Controversy Sparked Over Transmission Lines – MauiWeekly.com | News, information, serving Maui, Hawaii weekly — The Maui Weekly.

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PUC approves Hiawatha underground powerline in S. Mpls. | Minnesota Public Radio News

New underground project in Minneapolis.

PUC approves Hiawatha underground powerline in S. Mpls. | Minnesota Public Radio News.

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Utility eyes $13 million Cape Ann power boost

National Grid is proposing an underground utility upgrade to help prevent power outages near Gloucester, MA.

Utility eyes $13 million Cape Ann power boost.

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