The red front doors to a two-story white home built in 1926 swung open, and out stepped a curious Michael Werner. Located in the heart of Coral Gables, on the corner of Sansovino Avenue and Maggiore Street, sits one of eight authentic Asian homes as part of the historic Chinese Village.
Werner gazed across the street to where more than 100 Coral Gables city leaders and Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) personnel gathered in the heart of Maggiore Park to break ground on a long-awaited project – the undergrounding of power lines in his neighborhood as part of FPL’s Storm Secure Underground Program.
“I’m exhilarated. I’m very happy about it,” Werner said after recalling the times he’s gone without power due to severe weather over the past 40 years he’s called Coral Gables home.
The Storm Secure Underground Program is one of the ways FPL continuously works to improve reliable service for customers in good weather and bad. The program replaces overhead neighborhood power lines with underground lines to improve resiliency during hurricanes and severe weather, in addition to enhancing reliability during day-to-day conditions.
“FPL is out in full force. The city is out in full force. I just love that everyone is behind this,” Werner said with a smile. “It’s a testament to their dedication to the city, moving it forward and keeping it beautiful.”
Just down the street, crews were already hard at work demonstrating the process for installing underground lines.
“The underground lines have been shown to improve day-to-day reliability by 50% and by 85% during major storms,” said Robert Gaddis, director of FPL’s Storm Secure Underground Program. “That means Florida is back on its feet, and that means the economy is back doing business quicker,” Gaddis said.
FPL selects neighborhoods for Storm Secure Underground Projects based on a history of outages during past hurricanes, “vegetation-related” outages and other metrics that have been approved by the Florida Public Service Commission.
Coral Gables Mayor Vince Lago and city commissioners celebrated the project and the partnership between the city and FPL. Lago said he’s thrilled to see the project come to fruition.
“The implementation of this program is a critical step in our plans to modernize the city’s infrastructure, enhance sustainability, improve our quality of life and make Coral Gables a transformative leader,” he said.
He pointed out that the project will not result in upfront costs to city residents and will preserve the trees in Coral Gables, known as “City Beautiful.”
This Coral Gables neighborhood is just the latest example of FPL’s long-term plan to underground neighborhood power lines. The company continues to make progress across Florida and throughout Miami-Dade County.
“One of the most attractive things about our communities are the beautiful tree canopies,” said Miami Springs resident Marcos De La Rosa, who just went through the same process. “When we underground our power lines, we get the best of both worlds. You can maintain your tree canopy and at the same time increase your resiliency and recovery after a storm.”
Within the past four months, FPL completed an undergrounding project in Miami Springs, a process De La Rosa called seamless. He said he looks forward to his neighboring community members sharing his same sense of comfort heading into future storm seasons.
“I feel even if power goes down, the ability to restore it will be much more compressed,” De La Rosa said. “I thank FPL for being resilient toward storms because it’s not if - but when - our areas will be impacted again.”