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The end of the deadlock in the power cord angle of coral

28 September 2009 1,065 views No Comment

It’s time to break the decade-old impasse over whether to run a new power transmission line in downtown Cape Coral underground – and over who pays how much.

The line is needed to reduce the system’s vulnerability to power outages and to increase the system’s capacity, especially when growth resumes. There’s wide agreement on that, and on practically nothing else.

This has been a very frustrating issue. The line is needed, underground would at least look better and might be less of a hindrance to downtown redevelopment. The costs at issue amount, at most, to a few dollars per year per power customer.

You’d think this could be worked out; give a little here, get a little there, split a few differences – but it hasn’t happened after 10 years of trying.

So set a drop-dead deadline just in case there’s a chance for a compromise, or arbitration. Then take this problem to court. That’s what courts are there for, when you can’t work things out. (Sometimes a settlement finally emerges when the parties are actually headed for court, or even already there.)

In any case, dragging this out any longer on the same playing field seems pointless, and contrary to the public interest.

City officials, including the Community Redevelopment Authority, want the 1.2-mile line underground, saying overhead lines and 75-foot towers would mar downtown and interfere with multi-story development in an area targeted for redevelopment.

Fine, says LCEC, but the utility insists that the city pay the difference between overhead and the more expensive underground lines, which LCEC calculates at $6 million.

Cape Mayor Jim Burch questions that difference. He says if you figure in – among other things – the damages landowners might have to be paid if their development rights are restricted by overhead lines, the cost difference would shrink, maybe even disappear. He says LCEC won’t share enough information to allow an honest reckoning on this issue.

LCEC says it is quite capable of figuring out the cost difference between overhead and underground, thank you. It refuses to make its customers systemwide pay for the Cape’s preference – that would be unfair and set a dangerous precedent. It has suggested the city create a taxing district to handle the extra costs.

There are lots of other issues, and none of them has moved off dead center for years.

The council has a workshop Oct. 5 and a regular meeting Oct. 19. If some kind of movement doesn’t emerge then, this should be taken to court.

Going to court is not an ideal choice, but it beats a permanent impasse.

source from:http://www.news-press.com/article/20090928/OPINION/909280317/1015

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