South Miami proposes FPL power line alternatives
The South Miami City Commission voted Tuesday in favor of proposing alternate routes for FPL power lines. Commissioners also voted to support state house and senate bills which give cities more power in dealing with utilities.
BY LAURA MORALES
After arguing over the issue during a mid-March meeting, South Miami leaders opted to explore more options for the placement of controversial power lines.
They also resolved to support state legislation giving cities more control over how utility projects are implemented in their areas.
During their Tuesday meeting, South Miami commissioners voted in favor of an item that opposes Florida Power & Light’s plans to erect high-voltage power lines along U.S. 1 and the Ludlam Trail.
The measure also proposes that FPL look into three alternate routes: along sections of the Palmetto, Dolphin or Don Shula expressways.
The item was first proposed by Vice Mayor Brian Beasley and supported by Commissioner Valerie Newman during a March 17 meeting, where it and a similar resolution introduced by Mayor Horace Feliu and supported by Commissioner Jay Beckman were voted down.
Only one detail distinguished one resolution from the other: Feliu’s version only mentioned opposition to lines on Ludlam Trail, excluding U.S. 1.
”The reason we voted against it is that we wanted to consolidate the items and make sure we had one message and one voice,” Feliu said Friday.
FPL already has ruled out building the lines along the Ludlam Trail, a seven-mile section of the Florida East Coast Railway corridor that runs from Miami International Airport and the Dadeland North Metrorail station.
South Miami’s western boundary falls along this stretch.
Between the March 17 meeting and Tuesday’s, FPL sent a letter, dated March 30, to residents close to the areas where it’s considering building the lines. It included a map showing the utility’s preferred route for the area as U.S. 1.
Resident Rene Guim said Tuesday during the meeting’s public comments portion that he felt ”insulted” by the letter.
”We need to let them know how adamantly opposed we are to having their power lines anywhere near our community,” he said.
The utility wants to build lines to the corridor between the Turkey Point power plant and the Davis substation, at Southwest 138th Street and 127th Avenue. FPL also wants to connect the substation to northeastern areas of Miami-Dade.
Residents in South Miami, Coconut Grove, Cutler Bay and Pinecrest have expressed concern about the possible health hazards, particularly for children, of electric and magnetic fields emanating from high-voltage power lines.
Other reasons for opposition include visual impact and danger from lines downed during storms.
Vice Mayor Brian Beasley said Friday he has suggested to FPL they bury the lines, an option the utility has rejected as too expensive.
”They do it elsewhere, why can’t they do it here when they have record profits?” he said.
FPL spokesman Mayco Villafaña said Friday the expressway routes were considered and found to be “impractical.”
He cited the density of commercial and residential development along those roadways, air traffic concerns on expressway sections near the airport and state rules restricting transmission lines along state road rights-of-way.
”It was decided after a thorough eight-month public outreach process,” Villafaña added.
In keeping with their opposition to the U.S. 1 plan, commissioners also resolved to support House Bill 1315, sponsored by State Rep. Ronald Brisé, and Senate Bill 2644, sponsored by State Sen. Gary Siplin.
The identical bills would nix exceptions to requirements for electric utilities to get approval for power lines and would allow cities to challenge electric utilities’ plans and to request Public Service Commission hearings to resolve disputes.