On Wednesday, November 2, 2016 the Town of Palm Beach provided an undergrounding update at the Citizens’ Association. Town Manager Tom Bradford discussed the progress of the undergrounding project, upcoming milestones, and addressed questions from the audience.
The Town Council voted to convert overhead utilities to an underground location and Town voters approved the financing mechanism in the March 2016 referendum. The Town Council then approved, through the RFP process, an engineering firm to develop a master plan in collaboration with FPL and other utility companies. The plans will be ready to present early next year to the Underground Utilities Task Force and the Town Council, as well as to town residents in ongoing forums and events.
The Citizens’ Association presentation was the kick-off meeting as the season restarts in Palm Beach. Residents were reminded that the undergrounding project will improve electric and communications reliability, safety and aesthetics within the Town. Answers to questions included information from FPL reports that undergrounding utilities is more reliable than overhead utility infrastructure. The Town currently is served with electric service from the mainland with underwater electric and communications lines below the Intracoastal Waterway. According to previous studies and information from FPL, there are more than 30 miles of underground electrical wires that have previously been installed and in service for years in the Town.
Concerns about burying electric utility lines on a barrier island were explained by showing examples of other barrier islands, like Jupiter Inlet Colony, that had no power disruptions during Hurricane Matthew because they have buried power lines, while Palm Beach residents in many parts of Town dealt with power outages. The Town has developed an undergrounding project preliminary budget of $90 million as prescribed by the 2016 Undergrounding of Utilities Project referendum. This budget is also being independently reviewed as a part of the master planning process which is expected to be complete in early 2017.
The Town is engaging with community groups across the Island to keep residents and business owners informed. For more information, please visit www.Undergrounding.info. To request a presentation at your club or host a meeting in your community or condo please call 561.227.7077 or email a request to Underground@TownofPalmBeach.com.