Trees and Power: Undergrounding Coming Soon

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Will your neighborhood power lines be safely buried underground before next year’s hurricane season? After months of study, city engineers have the answer.

On August 13, Electric Department Director Jerry Warren released the results of a months-long study of Winter Park’s tree canopy. The electric department’s goal was to rank segments of the city’s power grid — street by street — to determine the order in which the city’s power lines will be placed underground. As explained in the study, “Staff identified 499 line segments (previously estimated to be 466) that have been assembled into 75 identified logical undergrounding projects. In accordance with the priority ranking methodology, adopted by the City Commission on June 11, those 75 projects have been ranked in order of priority.”

The ambitious $70 million undergrounding project — approved unanimously by the City Commission — could span fifteen to twenty years. Electric utility revenues will pay for the undergrounding, which is expected to cost the city close to $4 million annually.

Click the button below to see a prioritized master list of all 75 projects and a detailed explanation of the city’s ranking methodology. Readers can use computer keyboard search functions (ctrl F or cmd F) to find particular streets on the list.


Undergrounding Priority List

Continued from Home Page… During the June 11 Commission meeting, when Director Warren introduced his ranking methodology, he purposely refrained from naming any particular neighborhood or street to keep commissioners focused more on the ranking formula and less on the political implications of which neighborhoods will be undergrounded first. This week, Warren named names — and, his release of the full list also highlights which streets are scheduled to have power lines buried in the first years of the project.

These are the streets proposed for undergrounding in 2013:

Rank #1

  • E Lake Sue Ave, from Winter Park Rd. to Laurel Rd
  • Forrest Rd, from E Lake Sue Ave to Fawsett Rd
  • Laurel Rd, from Virginia Dr to Glenridge Way

Rank #2

  • 1951 Forrest Rd
  • 2161 Forrest Rd
  • E Kings Way, from Forrest Rd to Winter Park Rd
  • E Reading Way from Glencoe Rd to Winter Park Rd
  • Glenridge Way from Forrest Rd to Winter Park Rd
  • W Fawsett Rd from Fawsett Rd to E Fawsett Rd
  • Winter Park Rd from Reading Way to Lake Sue Ave
  • South of Lake Sue Ave, W Kings Way, Fawsett Rd, Englewood Rd, Glencoe Rd

Rank #3

  • Greene Dr from Cady Way to Sherbrooke Rd
  • Perth Ln from Cady Way to Loch Lomond Dr

Rank #4

  • Summerfield Rd from Greene Rd to Ranger Bl
  • Whitehall Dr from Lakemont Ave to Greene Rd

Rank #5

  • Interlachen Ave from Swoope Ave to Lyman Ave
  • Lyman Ave from Interlachen Ave to Knowles Ave
  • Lyman Ave from PS 22 to Fairbanks Ave
  • Moody Way

Director Warren is careful to point out that the priority of undergrounding projects can be affected by Public Works projects, unexpected conditions encountered in the field — and by priority changes dictated by the City Commission. So far, commissioners have not tinkered with the methodology, but questions have been raised about high-ranked streets that have already had trees significantly pruned, thereby reducing the likelihood of future power interruptions.

The city’s undergrounding priority ranking is based on several factors. The ranking methodology establishes a point system that uses data gathered by electric system personnel including arborists, linemen and system troubleshooters. Key ranking factors include:

Tree/power line conflicts — 40 points maximum (a line segment with more trees per mile is higher-ranked)

Visibility of overhead wires — 20 points maximum (high-traffic roads have priority over low-traffic neighborhood streets)

Type of power line — 20 points maximum (High-power lines — like 3-phase feeders — serving many people are ranked higher than low-power lines serving fewer people)

Reliability — 20 points maximum (a line segment with a history of power interruptions is higher-ranked)

City streets with a higher cumulative score are ranked higher and undergrounded sooner.



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    By: Tom Childers

    Tom was the previous editor of the Winter Park Voice and a citizen of Winter Park. He was a tireless advocate for Winter Park.

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