Town residents have asked questions about undergrounding so the town went to the experts at FPL. Here are the answers directly from the source…
Town: It has been stated that FPL says on its website that your experience in conversions from above ground to underground service is limited. Does FPL truly consider its experience in conversions to be “limited”?
FPL: FPL’s experience with overhead to underground conversions is not “limited.” Since 2007, FPL has successfully worked with municipalities to complete more than 50 municipal overhead to underground conversion projects.
Town: Citizens have stated that according to FPL undergrounding utility wires do not provide more reliable service for a flood - prone barrier island. According to the FPL 2015 Reliability Report filed with the Florida Public Service Commission the data provided to the Florida Public Service Commission by FPL indicates that approximately for every five outages for overhead service, underground service only has one outage. Please comment.
FPL: As the data indicates in FPL’s March 2, 2015 Annual Reliability Report filing, FPL’s underground facilities’ reliability performance system-wide during 2010 to 2014 was better than overhead facilities.
Town: Some have stated that the town's effort to bury all utility lines is a non-essential project with dubious benefits. Is it not true that a brand-new electric utility distribution system with underground service will experience better reliability than an overhead distribution system?
FPL: Generally speaking, a new underground system should provide better overall reliability than a new overhead system.
Town: Citizens have suggested that homeowners will be burdened with highly intrusive above ground electrical transformers resting on large concrete slabs. Is it true that the concrete slab that transformers rest upon is 6 inches high?
FPL: FPL’s standard concrete transformer slabs are approximately 6 inches thick. The company agrees that most residential property owners will be served by single phase transformers. (38 inches long, 34 inches wide and 24 inches tall)
Town: Some say that outages will be harder to find once the electrical facilities are underground. Can FPL please comment on its capabilities to locate problems on underground facilities?
FPL: FPL has improved its efforts to repair underground equipment by using the latest technologies.
Town: One citizens’ group has stated there are fewer electrical specialist repair crews with experience repairing under grounded infrastructure on a barrier island than crews with aboveground utility experience. Does FPL have sufficient crews to repair underground infrastructure on Palm Beach Island?
FPL: FPL has the necessary resources to respond to underground issues should they occur.
Town: FPL only intends to harden certain trunk lines throughout the town. The remaining distribution lines will still be on facilities that have not been hardened. Is it true that these facilities that have not been hardened are likely to still be damaged in a hurricane by wind and wind driven debris?
FPL: During a storm, non-hardened overhead facilities are more at risk than hardened ones. Overhead facilities can be impacted more than underground facilities by wind and wind-driven debris during a severe weather event
Town: FPL states on its website that underground service has a shorter Iife expectancy than overhead. Can you tell us the life expectancy of an overhead line versus the life expectancy of an underground line? In the event that an underground distribution line service life is over, whose responsibility is it to replace the distribution service line?
FPL: With current technologies, the life expectancy of overhead service versus underground service is typically not distinguishable to our customers. Life cycle replacement of utility-owned electrical equipment and facilities are FPL’s responsibility.
Town: In regard to undergrounding, some citizens have stated that cables installed at 6 feet below the street level will be in a constantly wet environment. Can you confirm that in regard to the National Electric Code to which FPL must comply the transformers can be placed on the property without concern for FEMA floodplain regulations?
FPL: Underground cable used by FPL is coated with a moisture barrier resin and installed within PVC conduit. FPL complies with the National Electric Safety Code.
While there is no mandate for the company to comply with FEMA floodplain requirements, FPL has completed several initiatives to address certain electric infrastructure located in areas susceptible to flooding and storm surge.
Town: Some have asked what assurance do we have that the utility companies will not shift service improvement costs to the property owners that ordinarily would be covered by the utility's capital budget?
FPL: PSC rules and FPL’s approved tariffs, which FPL must abide by, provide guidance for cost responsibilities. Typically, system improvements would likely be FPL’s responsibility.
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