By Steve Plunkett
Gulf Stream is holding weekly meetings with Florida Power & Light and the phone and cable companies to regain momentum on its project to bury the utility lines.
Contractor Wilco Electric, which has been placing conduit underground for the utilities in phase 2 of the project, was pulled off the job after Hurricane Irma struck to help FPL restore power across the state.
All of the underground conduit is now in place, and Town Manager Greg Dunham said Wilco is “on the verge” of finishing the electrical portion of the project.
“It’s going to take a couple of months,” he said. “But you’ll still have AT&T and Comcast overhead.”
Phase 2, which extends from Golfview Drive north, has approximately 200 customers subdivided into seven electrical “loops,” Dunham said. He expected FPL to issue “switching orders” allowing Wilco to switch customers from overhead to underground for at least two and possibly four loops by the end of October.
Each residence takes two to four hours to convert.
During Irma, the entire town lost power because of problems with substations or feeder lines outside of Gulf Stream, Dunham said. The storm blew a couple of power poles over on Polo Drive, where residents were the last to regain electricity almost a week later.
In the not-too-distant future, “that kind of incident won’t be happening,” he said.
After the electrical connections are made, Comcast or AT&T will transfer its overhead lines underground. Usually, one utility waits for the other to finish its segment, but Dunham was hopeful they would work simultaneously in different sections of phase 2. Then FPL will return.
“That’s when all the old infrastructure — the wires and poles — will come down,” Dunham said.
Town residents approved the plan to bury utility lines in 2011 and agreed to bear the $5.5 million cost through special assessments. Gulf Stream officials approved spending an additional $510,000 from the general budget last year.