FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Funding is now available for an expensive move that officials say will make Florence safer and more attractive: more power lines could soon be moved underground
After last year's winter ice storm, many people in the area started asking about the possibility of seeing power lines moved underground to help avoid power outages. With help from a local power supplier, this could soon be a reality in the City of Florence.
“Well it initially started in the upstate with Duke Energy, and we were able to get it approved for the Duke Energy Progress service territory, and it allows municipalities to convert overhead to underground power lines,” said Mindy Taylor, Spokesperson for Duke Energy Progress.
Taylor is talking about a new program which matches city money to help get these lines underground. The money comes from a franchise fee which you pay when you pay your electric bill. For the city of Florence, $269,000 per year will go into a pot which will help fund putting power lines underground.
But for each project the money is used for, the city has to put in half of the money.
"Not only is it nicer, but it's working to prevent power outages," Taylor said. Last year's winter ice storm proved to be testy for power lines. Heavy tree limbs fell on power lines –knocking out power to thousands of customers. Duke Energy progress says with underground lines, situations like this could be limited.
But the problem underground lines make, is the fact that it's more difficult for electric crews to find the line causing the outage –because it is buried beneath ground, and not as visible at the lines in the air.
While the city says one day power lines could start disappearing in neighborhoods the first project in the works right now is on North Dargan Street.
"We are very much excited to be a part of what's going on downtown and all throughout the city, and this is just one way that we can partner with the city to help provide some financial resources to help them do this streetscape," Taylor said.
Right now a second reading on an amendment to an ordinance is needed – that reading happens a week from Monday. If it passes we could see that money going to work as soon as this coming July.