North Bay Village awarded $11 million in grant money to bury power lines

Grant has other South Florida residents hoping for same thing

By Glenna Milberg - Reporter

NORTH BAY VILLAGE, Fla. - Burying power lines is something often requested by South Florida residents, but it rarely happens due to the high costs. 

After Hurricane Irma, many residents in the town of North Bay Village went weeks without power.

Workers from Florida Power & Light restrung the power lines that Irma knocked down. 

FPL charged customers for the costs, while telling residents that it would be much costlier to bury the lines. 

North Bay Village applied for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant intended for hazard mitigation. For the record, FEMA officially considers the century-old process of delivering electricity with power lines and poles a hazard that can be mitigated. 

Tuesday, though, North Bay Village, with about 9,000 residents, was granted $11 million for burying its power lines. 

"Residents absolutely are asking for it," Mayor Brent Latham said. "It's something that helps the aesthetic of the neighborhood, as well as providing a more reliable source of power over time when we get windstorms."

Residents in many other municipalities throughout South Florida want FPL to put the power lines underground. 

Generally, the utility will do it as long as the customers agree to bear the costs.

North Bay Village decided to dip into the federal storm hazard pool.

"It’s certainly not an everyday occurrence that we're providing mitigation grants for burying power lines," FEMA spokesman Dave Mace said. 

Mace told Local 10 News that only one other city in Florida is asking for such a grant, and that request is still under review. 

"Any kind of type of steps that can be taken before a disaster to make infrastructure more resilient is obviously money well spent," he said. 

North Bay Village estimates the $11 million will pay for about one-third of the estimated $28 to $32 million it would take to put every power line for the three-island village underground. 

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