Tallahassee to upgrade electric lines, infrastructure

Tallahassee will spend $2.6 million on new electric transmission lines and poles to provide a more reliable electric service. It is the first city in the state of Florida to be approved to have these electrical transmissions within the corridor of the interstate.

Tallahassee’s Electric Reliability Project includes upgrading an existing transmission line and installing an additional line to create better connectivity and, ultimately, a more reliable system, said Paul Defrank, managing engineer for Tallahassee Utilities.

“When you connect to your neighboring utilities, you want to connect with the strongest backbone that you can,” Defrank said. “It has to do with power flow across the system and if we can divide the flow up between the two loops it’s more reliable for us as well.”

The project had been stalled since 2012 because a decision had to be made on which side of I-10 to do the construction on. Florida Department Of Transportation has made that decision for the city.

“The last year has been filled with internal discussions with FDOT,” said Brian Horton, the manager of power engineering for The City of Tallahassee. “We basically have no choice. They don’t want any work done on the North side.”

The land belongs to FDOT therefore it has chosen to allow construction on the South side of the interstate. Building on the South side of I-10 would cost an estimated $2.6 million is construction alone, effect 81 customers and approximately need 2,580 trees to be removed.

“I’m just happy they're not digging in my backyard,” said Ralph Hill, a Tallahassee resident who would have been affected by the North side construction.

The transmission line project will effectively strengthen the backbone of the overall system and will help to accommodate the current and future needs of the city, DeFrank said.

The upgrade of the current line involves replacing the electric poles that run from the a substation at Miccosukee and Riggins Roads to the substation near Market Square located just off of Timberlane Road.

Tallahassee has placed a high priority on keeping customers involved in this process. Informational meetings were held in late 2012 to provide details about the project and allow for the community to offer feedback.  

Tallahassee currently has three of its electrical substations (14,17,21) feeding from one (9) via transmission lining.  Building the new line will help prevent a potential bad situation if a transmission feed from substation 9 went down leaving 14,17 and 21 down as well.

“In order to have reliable power, you must have redundant feeds,” DeFrank said.

An open house will be held Feb. 12 at Keiser University for plans to be announced.

Keiser University is located at 1700 Halstead Blvd. Members of the city who will be affected by the construction are urged attend.