EAST COUNTY — Nearly five years after the state approved construction of a new transmission line connecting Manatee and Sarasota counties, concrete power poles for the project are finally going up.
Construction crews have begun the first phase of Florida Power & Light’s Bobwhite transmission line project, which will provide bulk, high-voltage power from the Manatee Energy Center in Parrish to a new soon-to-be-built substation off of Fruitville Road and County Road 780.
In October 2008, former Gov. Charlie Crist and his cabinet approved the 24.5-mile route for the 230-kilovolt line, which fell under the state’s Transmission Line Siting Act, which requires state approval for power lines that cross counties, span 15 miles or longer and carry 230 kilovolt or more of power.
FPL says the $20 million transmission line project is needed to meet the East County’s future power needs.
The start of construction on the first phase of the line — a portion spanning 11 miles from the proposed substation in Sarasota County to State Road 64 — began in April and will last through November, said Bill Orlove, an FPL spokesperson.
The second phase of the project — installing the remaining 13.5 miles of the line — will begin in 2014.
Orlove says the new substation off Fruitville Road will be built by December.
FPL does not have a timeline for when the line will go live.
“This is about enhancing service reliability to customers,” Orlove said. “It’s about providing reliable energy for now and into the future.”
FPL originally said the line was supposed to be completed by 2011, but the project was delayed after East County homeowners worked with FPL and Lakewood Ranch developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch to determine a route that would preserve the beauty of lands in eastern Sarasota and Manatee counties.
The approved route took into account FPL’s preferred route, with SMR’s two alternatives and two options from Taylor & Fulton, a Palmetto-based tomato grower.
FPL’s Bobwhite transmission line only comes within 600 feet of the homes closest to it, and it does not affect Gum Slough, a designated conservation easement.
Phase one of the line follows a path along the eastern side of The Concession Golf Club.
There, thick silver poles meant to withstand winds up to 145 mph were placed on a spot near The Concession’s entrance. Other poles lie across the grass, waiting to be erected and strung with lines.
Once the transmission line is completed, power moves in bulk from the power plant in Parrish, to the new power lines and then to the substations, which disperse power to neighborhoods. Peace River Electric Cooperative is building a second substation on State Road 70 as part of the project.
Peace River’s substation will be built next year.
THE LINE'S PATH
The line travels due south from the Manatee Energy Center (off of State Road 62, in Parrish) to County Road 675; then it follows to State Road 64. The corridor follows State Road 64 west to Dam Road, where it turns south along the eastern edge of Schroeder-Manatee Ranch property. At University Parkway, the corridor turns southwest to connect to the proposed Bobwhite substation, located off Fruitville Road and County Road 780.
Contact Josh Siegel at [email protected].