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Winter Park seeks engineering firm to help plan burying of power lines

Winter Park seeks engineering firm to help plan burying of power lines
A Duke Energy contractor coils downed power lines on Dommerich Drive during the first stage of assessment and restoration in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Maitand, in September 2017. Hurricane Irma's high winds knocked out power to millions across Florida. (Joe Burbank / Orlando Sentinel)

The City of Winter Park wants to hire a civil engineering firm to design plans to bury existing overhead power lines across the city, according to a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) issued on Saturday.

The city covers approximately nine square miles, with a  population of 29,317 that breaks down for the electrical system as 12,171 residential customers and 2,542 commercial.

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The burying of power lines resurfaced as a hot-button issue last fall after Hurricane Irma knocked out electricity to hundreds of thousands of customers across the state.

While burying lines is more expensive and can be harder to repair after heavy flooding, underground lines perform better in storms and recover power more quickly than those overhead, according to a 2015 reliability report from Florida Power & Light, which powers half the state.

Winter Park owns its own electrical utility service. On the first day of Hurricane Irma approximately half of the city was without power, with the vast majority of outages due to overhead lines, City Manager Randy Knight wrote last November in the Orlando Sentinel.

About half the city's power lines are now underground. The government has committed to spending approximately $3.5 million annually to have all overhead lines buried by 2026.

For the Winter Park RFQ, all electrical wires including street lighting would be designed for underground. Existing poles with street lights will be topped, if required, and re-fed underground.

Most of the burying of power lines will be focused on the street front of properties, preferably in right of way, according to the RFQ.

The designer must provide permit drawings and support documents for any work on state or county highways, or railroad crossings, for submission to the Florida Department of Transportation.

Winter Park anticipates its selection committee for the RFQ to evaluate and rank applicants by July 10, with oral presentations and a final ranking on July 17.

Applications are due by June 28 to Winter Park City Hall.

Full documents for RFQ no. 18-2018 can be found through the city's Procurement Division webpage.

In a separate Invitation to Negotiate (ITN) issued on Friday, Winter Park is also seeking a power supply contract to purchase a 10-megawatt block of power to be provided on a full-time basis. This contract would replace the city's current contract with Gainesville Regional Utilities that expires at the end of this year.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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