Saturday, June 23, 2018
Text Size

Underground plans

Homeowners offered incentives to convert to buried power lines.

You don’t have to jump on the bandwagon but there’s up to a $750 incentive if you do.

At their July 5 meeting, Gothenburg City Council members voted to bury overhead power lines underground if homeowners agree to the project.

If not, electric poles and lines will become the property of homeowners and their responsibility to maintain and replace them when needed.

On another motion, the council decided to pay up to 75% of the cost of the conversion with a maximum contribution of $750.

Two areas of town, with deteriorating poles and logistical difficulties in getting city equipment into the easement to work on lines, have been targeted—between Grand Crescent and Highland Drives from Lake Avenues to Avenue F and from Avenues A to B from 18th to 20th.

This year, services will be converted in the utility easement in the Grand Crescent and Highland Drive area where about $65,000 has been budgeted for the project.

City administrator Bruce Clymer said nine services are already underground but 10 are not.

Local electrician Larry Franzen, who spoke at the meeting, said the conversion may prompt property owners to change from 100- to 200-amp service which could cost up to $1,200.

Franzen lives in the affected area but already has an underground service.

However he sees no benefit to homeowners to have underground lines and noted that the incentive needed to be more than $500, which was spelled out in the city’s policy and procedure manual and was the amount initially discussed.

“My concern is that it’s not as simple as it sounds,” Franzen said.

Homeowner Bob Nelson, who lives on Grand Crescent Drive, said he thought what the city would offer—if bumped to $750—was a fair compromise.

Gary Fritch, a council member, supported the conversion to underground lines and the monetary amount offered by the city since, he said, the city needs to continue to maintain its infrastructure.

Other council members agreed.

They also discussed, but took no action, on whether homeowners could pay for the conversion incrementally and be billed accordingly.

After the meeting, city electrical foreman Mike Libich said some of the poles are rotting at ground level since most were erected in the late 1960s and early 1970s when the subdivision formed.

“A pole’s life is about 40 years unless it’s damaged before then,” Libich said.

City officials met with affected property owners during a June 7 meeting.