Written by MARK JAEGER
Wednesday, 10 September 2014 20:16
Although money is far short of $2 million estimate to bury cables, village will use funds on Fredonia Ave.
After debating for years about the staggering cost of burying overhead power lines, Village of Fredonia officials didn’t have to think twice about accepting a $200,000 credit from We Energies.
The electric utility offered the village the credit as its share of making improvements in conjunction with the reconstruction of Fredonia Avenue.
The offer is well short of the estimated $2 million the utility said it would cost to bury all overhead lines along the village’s primary east-west thoroughfare.
Public Works Director Roger Strohm said village officials have had multiple talks with We Energies representatives about relocating the power lines.
Strohm said according to the Public Service Commission, the utility is expected to pay for line relocation if a road is being substantially widened.
Although the proposed profile of Fredonia Avenue will be slightly wider, it was not deemed significant enough to merit having the power company pay the entire cost of moving lines.
“I can’t tell you where they came up with the $200,000 credit, but we are certainly going to accept it,” Strohm said.
“It is up to us to identify where to apply the credit. If we don’t do so, that money will be gone.”
There are some restrictions on where the money can be used.
“We can’t use it to pay our street light bill, but we should be able to use it to move some power lines,” Strohm said.
When Village President Chuck Lapicola discussed the credit offer at the last Village Board meeting, he said the money will help but won’t solve the goal of beautifying all of Fredonia Avenue.
“Based on the $2 million quote, the $200,000 would probably cover about 300 feet of the road. That might let us remove four poles,” Lapicola said.
He said he has tried to get the power company to reconsider the cost of burying its lines, but made no progress.
Lapicola said he asked utility officials to provide a per-foot estimate for moving lines underground.
“I tried to get that information, but they didn’t want to go that way,” he said.
The village had hoped to install underground conduit along with the road project. That open pipe would have been able to handle electrical, telephone and digital lines, removing the clutter of overhead lines.
The Public Works Committee has been asked to decide where to apply the We Energies credit.