NextEra announces open house

Lazaro Aleman
ECB Publishing, Inc.

NextEra, the company behind the high-voltage transmission line that is slated to cross Jefferson and Leon counties, will hold an open house on the controversial project next week.
The event is scheduled for 3-8 p.m. Tuesday, June 4, at the North Florida Fairgrounds, 441 Paul Russell Rd. in Tallahassee.
In its prepared announcement, the company promises to share information about the project, which it states “will enhance the reliability and resiliency of service in good weather and bad for Gulf Power customers.”
It must be noted that Gulf Power does not provide electricity to this area, and the 176-mile long, 161-kilowatts transmission line, which will run from Columbia County to Jackson County, merely traverses Jefferson and Leon counties.
In indirect response to local residents' concerns about the impact of the line on their properties, the environment and the counter-aesthetics of an industrial type line in a rural setting – as well as their pointed question of what good Jefferson County will derive from the project – NextEra offers the economic development card.
The company's prepared announcement states that Leon County will garner “more than $17 million in property tax revenues over 30 years, including $960,000 the first year.”
“In Jefferson County,” the announcement states, “it is expected to generate more than $17.3 million in property tax revenues over 30 indirect economic benefits along its 7route, including 200 jobs across varying craft skills during the development and construction phase.
“Local hotels, restaurants and stores will experience increased business as a result of our construction as well,” the announcement states.
The project is scheduled to begin and terminate construction in 2020. Too, as has been the case in most NextEra communications so far, the announcement reiterates that “the route has not been finalized,”even as easement acquisition continues along the preferred route, which remains the one following the Waukeenah Highway and Tram Road in Jefferson County.
Meanwhile, the Tallahassee Democrat earlier this week reported a new wrinkle in the story, this being that Leon County and City of Tallahassee officials are proposing their own alternate routes.
Per the Democrat article, Leon County officials' proposed route follows along an existing natural gas line that avoids the environmentally sensitive Tram Road area. This, of course, still leaves the Waukeenah Highway here in jeopardy.
At the same time, Tallahassee city officials were also working on a collocation agreement “that could solidify a move to the same pipeline just to the south of the rural, two-lane road,” the Democrat reported.
The article quoted Tallahassee City Manager Reese Goad saying that use of the alternative gas pipeline route had been part of the ongoing discussions between the city and NextEra.
“We are talking to NextEra about a collocation route that may enable that,” the Democrat quoted Goad saying. “We've been discussing a different transmission corridor than we'd previously discussed.”
NextEra, it was also reported, is supposed to present its route plan to the City of Tallahassee Commission on Wednesday, June 5.
Collocation of the line along 14 miles of Tallahassee power poles benefits both entities. For NextEra, it reduces its costs. As for the city, it gets its utility infrastructure upgraded.