Winter Park underground power grid project reaches milestone

Underground power lines now account for nearly 75% of city’s electric lines

WINTER PARK, Fla. – The Winter Park Electric Utility said Wednesday that it has reached a milestone in a decades-long project aimed at fortifying the city’s electric infrastructure.

The city said its underground power lines now account for nearly 75% of the city’s total electric lines.

Utility Director Dan D’Alessandro said that despite pandemic-related delays, the project is expected to reach completion in 2030.

“It is hard work, but it’s rewarding work because the benefit is obvious and immediate,” D’Alessandro said. “It’s not over. We are done with about 80% of the city, which means 30% of people still need some work done.”

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The city said it expects to be the first city in the country to have 100% of its electric lines underground.

So far, nearly 95 of the 130 miles included in the project have been completed. Officials said crews average about 8 miles per year.

Lifelong Winter Park resident Jamie Ackerman said she’s experienced several hurricanes growing up in Florida.

“I grew up in the area. I live in the area now. I work here, and I am so excited to have it. I remember growing up, every time it rained, the electricity and power went out,” Ackerman said. “I don’t currently have a backup generator, so when my power goes out, I just don’t have power for extended periods of time. That might mean replacing all of my groceries or not being able to work from home.”

Ackerman said she is also looking forward to the project’s completion.

“Absolutely, it’s an asset. It’s going to make us safer and keep our electricity on. I think it’s wonderful. I’m glad to see our taxpayer dollars being spent this way,” Ackerman said.

Officials also noted that underground electric lines could still be problematic during flooding.

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Troy graduated from California State University Northridge with a Bachelor's Degree in Communication. He has reported on Mexican drug cartel violence on the El Paso/ Juarez border, nuclear testing facilities at the Idaho National Laboratory and severe Winter weather in Michigan.