TECO Open House Draws Concerned FishHawk Ranch and Channing Park Residents

Channing Park resident Bradley McDonald, left, studies an area map, while TECO transmission project manager Arlee Jones explains the company’s Polk Power to FishHawk Substation power line construction project.  The proposed line cuts through and between the FishHawk Ranch and Channing Park communities, only yards from existing homes.

The second of three open house meetings hosted recently by Tampa Electric (TEC0), drew scores of concerned FishHawk Ranch and Channing Park residents seeking answers in connection with the company’s proposed power line and substation expansion.

Armed with several maps on display at FishHawk Fellowship Church, as well as company representatives, engineers, and technicians, TECO said that its proposal to run a portion of a brand new 230-kilovolt (kV) transmission line on TECO owned land. The land, which runs between the two communities is solid, most cost-effective and if approved, could possibly be completed by 2017.

The full scale project is a 40-mile expansion from the power plant, in southwestern Polk County to the FishHawk Substation, located at 19306 Boyette Rd., in southeastern Hillsborough County.

The company would also build a proposed substation, near Balm Boyette Rd. and Aspen Ave. A 10-mile portion of an existing 230-kV transmission line in the Pierce and Bradley areas of Polk County also would need to be relocated to improve reliability.

While TECO calls the project ‘The Polk Power to FishHawk Substation line’, Channing Park resident Bradley McDonald calls it, ‘unacceptable’. McDonald promises to fight the installation of the proposed electric poles that would stand 90 to 120 feet above ground, just a few yards from his home.

“This is my first house,” McDonald said. “I would have never bought here if I knew about this. Coming to this open house I hoped to convince TECO to consider moving the lines out of the heart of the community, or at least, bury it and run it under the ground.”

A TECO transmission engineer Paul Allen was quick to replay and addressed the issues of the project’s cost.

“Burying the power lines would be anywhere from five to ten times more expensive,” Allen said.

While acknowledging the cost issue as well as some safety concerns that were expressed by many, McDonald summed up what he said appeared to be on the minds of every resident that showed up at the meeting.

“To bury the lines, the cost will go up, while my property value will go down,” McDonald said.

TECO transmission project manager Arlee Jones emphasized that no decision has been made and explained that TECO is only proposing the above ground route, which is “not set in stone.” When a decision is made, it can only be halted by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

“It’s a lot of information at one time, but this open house is designed to help residents learn more about the project, ask questions, share their views and concerns and for TECO to determine the most cost-effective option to build the new line,” Jones said.

TECO Media spokesperson, Cherie Jacobs, said that the decision to expand the Polk Power Station and building the power lines is not the only option and that TECO is considering getting power from other sources.

“In five years we will need more electricity,” Jacobs said, “We are currently seeking bids from other power providers. This process will end in May, at which point we will decide what route to take.”

If TECO decides on The Polk Power to FishHawk Substation line, construction would begin in 2014.

For more information about the proposed transmission lines please visit www.tampaelectric.com/polktofishhawk or call 275-3334.