News & Updates


TECO postpones plans for high voltage lines


The Tampa Tribune

Residents working to save a Seffner forest and the eagles that inhabit it have gotten a two-year reprieve from Tampa Electric Co.

TECO sent a letter recently to those living in the proposed pathway of a high-voltage power corridor, saying it plans to delay putting in power lines that would cut through the hammock. The date for the second phase of the corridor has been pushed back from 2012 to 2014.

Nearby residents hope to use the extra time to find a way to protect the forest.

TECO has state approval to construct a 230,000-volt power line corridor between Mulberry and Temple Terrace. The newest plan would build the corridor in three phases.

The 30-mile transmission line would have power poles up to 125 feet tall and run from Temple Terrace through the Seffner forest, then zigzag south and east to Dover Road, and east along State Road 60 to Mulberry.

The company had previously announced it would delay the third phase of the project, running from Seffner to Mulberry, until 2018. The delays are due to less customer demand than previously expected.

TECO spokesman Rick Morera said that date could still fluctuate, depending on changing customer demand.

The delay is not a long one, but it’s enough for now, said Susan Watson, who lives in Seffner near the proposed corridor and continues to battle against it.

Watson has a son who lives with autism. She believes the power lines could affect his health, ruin her home-based business as a counselor and tutor to others with similar disabilities and could displace the occupants of a bald eagle’s nest, active for more than 40 years.

She has filed a complaint with the Public Service Commission hoping to convince the permitting agency to require TECO to rethink the pathway for the corridor. Numerous other neighbors have sent letters in support of her complaint, which is pending.

“We’re very happy with the delay because it’s giving us time to look into preserving as much of this area as we can,” Watson said. “We’ve been to several agencies, and they are all very encouraging. We plan to contact the Florida Communities Trust.”

The trust works with the state program, Florida Forever, which purchases land for preservation in conjunction with other state and local entities.

“We’re also going to try to get a spot on the ELAPP map,” she said.

The county’s Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program – ELAPP – which purchases land for preservation using a special voter-approved tax – is taking applications for its next round of review through December.

“I’ve done a lot more research and have some willing sellers” that could help connect the Simmons Hammock (forest) to 900 acres already selected by ELAPP north of Interstate 4, Watson said. By connecting the properties, it would create a corridor, or greenway, that would make it more acceptable as an ELAPP site, she said.

“We’re going to call it Simmons Hammock Greenway, because it was historically called that,” Watson said. “That was the first name for the Seffner area.”