FAQs: Planning for a Brighter Future; the Role Power Lines Play
Why are power plants, lines and substations necessary? | How does electricity arrive at my home? | Overhead or underground power lines | Isn't it better to place power lines underground? | Why do transmission lines cost so much more? | Does that mean transmission lines cannot be placed under ground? | Why can't FPL pay the difference in cost? | How will FPL address our concerns related to transmission line aesthetics?
Why are power plants, lines and substations necessary?
Florida Power & Light Company provides an essential service. We take our obligation to serve residents, businesses, and governmental entities throughout the state very seriously. FPL is regulated by the Florida Public Service Commission and must construct basic electric facilities in order to distribute electricity from generating plants to our customers.
How does electricity arrive at my home?
Just like roads and water and sewer facilities, electrical lines and facilities are a necessary part of every community’s infrastructure. Much like our highway system, FPL's massive 71,500-mile power-line grid is made up of large and small lines. If rolled out, these lines would wrap around the earth’s equator not once or twice – but three times. Transmission lines are larger and operate somewhat like interstate highways and expressways. Distribution lines are smaller than transmission lines and function similar to streets and avenues that crisscross communities and neighborhoods.
Overhead or underground power lines?
While overhead distribution line construction remains the standard in Florida, it is more common today for these lines, particularly in new subdivisions, to be installed underground. In fact, FPL installs more than two-thirds of all new distribution lines underground. The difference in cost is the responsibility of the developers and homeowners.
Compared to overhead transmission lines, underground transmission lines take longer to repair and are five to fifteen times more costly to construct. More than 98 percent of FPL’s transmission lines are overhead.
Isn't it better to place power lines underground?
FPL does not oppose placing lines underground. However, it is important to note that there are both pros and cons to building lines overhead and underground. The reliability of overhead and underground lines is comparable. For example, both underground and overhead lines are subject to lightning damage. Although overhead lines may have more exposure than underground lines to wind damage or collisions, underground facilities are prone to flood damage, especially in coastal areas where exposure to salt water could cause an outage. The key difference between underground and overhead lines is that it typically takes more time with underground lines to diagnose the problem and make repairs. This difference in repair time is best characterized in days rather than hours.
Why do transmission lines cost so much more?
Transmission lines can power entire cities. In order to transport larger amounts of power, underground transmission lines are much more technically complex and material intensive. Each underground transmission line is custom-made, making them not only more expensive to design, but install and maintain as well.
Does that mean transmission lines cannot be placed underground?
There are circumstances where FPL transmission lines can be and have been placed underground. If engineering complexities and cost differentials can be overcome, FPL is open to the idea of underground transmission.
If a community decides that it wishes a line to be placed underground, the residents must be willing to pay the extra costs involved. And, of course, as with any business transaction, the community requesting underground lines must be able to show that they have the means to pay for the construction. To put it in perspective, less than 100 miles of FPL 6,500 miles transmission lines are underground.
Why can't FPL pay the difference in cost?
As a regulated utility, FPL is required to provide safe, reliable, low cost electric service to its customers. The Florida Public Service Commission authorizes the rates FPL can charge its customers and determines what costs can be included in those rates. It is the Public Service Commission's policy, and FPL agrees, that it is unfair to charge all of FPL's customers to bury a line in a particular area when a particular person or locality requested placing that line underground. Consequently, FPL may only bury lines when another entity agrees to pick up the differential cost between underground and overhead construction.
FPL has approximately 6,500 miles of transmission lines on its system. Less than 100 miles are underground.
How will FPL address our concerns related to transmission line aesthetics?
As homeowners and residents of communities served by FPL as well, we share the desire for an aesthetically pleasing community. Electric lines, however, must go somewhere.
Typically, FPL's engineers will find routes that follow busy roadways. They will also look for opportunities to rebuild existing lines or build alongside existing lines. When constructing new lines, they may incorporate smaller distribution lines on the same poles to reduce the clutter of multiple lines in an area.
Once the route is sited, careful placement of individual poles-such as around neighborhood entrances and adjacent to property lines-may also sometimes be used to minimize the transmission line's effect on the appearance of an area. FPL crews will clean up and restore the area where improvements have been made.
Further, we are asking the community to help us by sharing their concerns and giving us an opportunity to address these as we serve you.