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Underground power lines creating more hurricane-resilient businesses on Fort Myers Beach

Underground Power Lines in Times Square
Posted at 3:27 PM, Mar 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-06 19:11:17-05

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — On Monday, Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) contract crews for the first time, began installing more reliable underground power lines in the Times Square area of Fort Myers Beach.

A press release from FPL said work is expected to take place for approximately one week, and could close off certain areas of Times Square to guests.

Carolina Polania, the owner of 2,000 Flavors in Times Square said her building has been ready to open for over one month, but the door remains locked.

“We have been struggling for five months, no power. We have been ready to be open for at least one month,” said Polania.

So instead, Polania is serving customers out of a trailer set up behind her building in Times Square.

Polania said her hope is that the expected week-long project will return electricity to her building which will help her bring back her 16 employees.

“I have many employees waiting every single day, calling me saying they are ready to come back,” said Polania.

On Monday, Fox 4 crews could not find any FPL workers starting this process.

In a statement to Fox 4, a spokesperson for FPL gave this response to our questions.

Underground power lines are more reliable than overhead lines – particularly during hurricanes and extreme weather, when trees and vegetation and wind-blown debris can cause outages to overhead lines. During Hurricane Ian alone, underground power lines performed seven times better than existing overhead power lines in Southwest Florida, which took a direct hit from the high-end, Category 4 storm.

Thanks to advances in technology, we have water-resistant undergrounding components to protect electrical connections and reduce the risk of outages caused by water intrusion. While we can and have undergrounded in many areas, if we determine that undergrounding is not the best option for a specific area, we may “harden” overhead lines using stronger poles and other measures to make the overhead system more storm resilient.
Shawn Johnson Communication Specialist Marketing & CommunicationsNextEra Energy, Inc. Florida Power & Light Company

“I am really concerned it's like almost noon and I didn't see anybody yet,” said Polania.

Once complete, FPL said power will be restored to the Times Square area.

“We are really excited to finally start the process to get the power back," said Polania.