Seeing power lines may soon be a thing of the past as Florida lawmakers are moving forward with regulation changes.
As the Panhandle continues to recover after Hurricane Michael, leaders in Tallahassee are looking at the way power lines are built in the state, moving them underground.
“The benefits of undergrounding is reliability. It’s good in terms of when you have storms you don’t have the overhead wires that can get knocked down by trees or debris,” said Gulf Power Spokesperson Gordon Paulus.
The cost of the change though is a concern in the capital. Some lawmakers fearing this would increase customer rates. However, Paulus says for installation, customers would only pay the difference if they make the change. “The states public commission has set the regulation that we pay for the overhead cost and the entity takes care of the cost to do the underground.”
In Panama City Beach, regulations for this change are already in place.
“All power that’s feeding a new facility, a new home, a new business to go underground so if there’s an existing overhead powerline, it goes from that overhead powerline down into the ground and feeds that facility. New developments have the same regulations,” said Panama City Beach City Manager, Mario Gisbert.
The city having multiple streets with completely underground power lines and creating more.
Gisbert said, “on Front Beach road, within the CRA, we are proactively taking all the overhead power, all the overhead data communications and putting it underground, which is a great storm hardening tool for the future.”
The bill is currently still under review. If passed, it will take effect on July 1, 2019.