Customers to fund $10 million FPL Virginia Key expansion
Florida Power & Light (FPL) will soon commence a multi-million-dollar expansion project from Virginia Key, one that will ultimately be paid for by its customers.
The company offered details about the project to the Virginia Key Advisory Board. Attending was David Weda, an engineer with FPL.
Pressed on the total cost of the project by board members, Mr. Weda said it will be more than $10 million.
The project includes expansion of an existing electrical substation on Virginia Key and the addition of another transmission line from Virginia Key under Biscayne Bay and PortMiami on Dodge Island and to Miami Beach, according to Mr. Weda.
The project schedule is subject to change but currently the project is to be in permitting this summer, into civil construction toward the end of the year, with electrical work set for early 2022, and have the new line in service later in 2022, Mr. Weda told the board.
A PowerPoint on the project says it is expected to be in service the second quarter 2022.
The Virginia Key substation is at Miami-Dade County’s wastewater treatment facility in the middle of the island, on the west side of the facility.
Mr. Weda said, “The project will provide another connection to that substation, to provide redundancy to that substation, and enhance service to the surrounding area on Virginia Key.
“The Virginia Key area is served by (FPL) underground transmission lines from downtown down to Key Biscayne, up to Virginia Key and across to Miami Beach … where we have a substation on MacArthur Causeway, and that’s the circuit that the substation on Virginia Key is served by.”
“We do have some upcoming projects in the area that will cause us to do work on other portions of the line and during those projects our service will be a little bit at risk, if you will, so that’s one of the reasons we’re anxious to construct this project,” he told the board.
A new transmission line will be installed using horizontal directional drill (HDD) technology to traverse the North Channel, PortMiami, South Channel and Biscayne Bay.
The project will add a third transmission feed to the Virginia Key substation, and will require some expansion within the easement area.
Also, a new transformer and feeders will be added to support Key Biscayne.
There will be no work at PortMiami, as the new line (cable) will pass more than 100 feet under Dodge Island.
The project does not require any interruptions of customer service, according to the presentation.
Mr. Weda said, “We’re not proposing any in-water work; it would be upland to upland, with drill rigs located on both the Virginia Key side and the Terminal Island side.”
He added, “We do have a contractor identified and a cable supplier identified. Obviously, this project will require some coordination with both the county as well as the city, as both are stakeholders in this area.”
The treatment plant is owned by the county and the surrounding area, much of Virginia Key, is owned by the City of Miami.
A new member of the advisory board, Lamell McMorris, asked Mr. Weda about the cost of the project and whether third-party contractors would be working with FPL to install the new underwater transmission line and related work.
When Mr. McMorris first asked about cost, Mr. Weda said, “So, um, we’re still working through that with our vendors but I will tell you it is not a cheap project. Right.”
Mr. McMorris responded, “So naturally I have a couple of other questions. So, who bears the cost?”
Mr. Weda answered, “The cost of this project would be borne by the ratepayers, right, as other projects throughout the county are borne by our ratepayers.”
Mr. McMorris asked if the governmental stakeholders will be paying for any of the work.
“So, the City of Miami is not and the county are not being asked to fund this project. No sir. This is being done for reliability and for redundancy,” said Mr. Weda.
Pressed on the cost of the project, Mr. Weda said, “I can tell you it will be in excess of $10 million. I can tell you that.”
“That seems really conservative. You said $10 million?” asked Mr. McMorris.
“In excess of $10 million. Yes sir,” said Mr. Weda.