The state Public Service Commission is moving forward with plans to make Florida’s power grid better able to withstand hurricanes and other storms.
The PSC held a public hearing Thursday on proposed rules for stricter construction standards for electric companies, including requiring underground power lines.
Phone companies are concerned they will get socked with billions of dollars in costs too, because they piggy-back off many of the same power lines.
But a PSC spokeswoman says undergrounding is only one of the options, and may not work in many parts of Florida anyway.
Kirsten Olsen, PSC spokeswoman, said, “There are 10 points, actually in the plan they're looking at, including vegetation management, how to handle the issues of what places are appropriate for underground lines, polls and the safety and liability of polls and their ability to stay up in the high winds."
"And they're actually using a lot of information already out there for national groups in construction and electrical standards to make their decisions on, to make sure these are things that would work well for the state of Florida.”
Bell South estimates its costs alone to redo lines on polls abandoned by electric companies under the new rules could run as high as $4 billion.
The PSC wants a staff recommendation by October 12, with a final vote at its October 24 meeting.