Homestead expects power upgrade by April
By Risa Polansky
Two new substations designed to increase the capability and reliability of Homestead's electrical system are expected to be running by April, said City Manager Curtis Ivy.
Mr. Ivy initially projected a summer 2006 completion of the substations when the city introduced the plans for a $20 million upgrade to the electrical system in 2004.
Since then, Homestead has worked to put together financing, acquire property, find engineering firms, refine the substations' designs and ensure the environmental safety of the substations in addition to making improvements on the current power plant, Mr. Ivy said. The city has spent $8 million on the project, he said.
"It just takes time," Mr. Ivy said. "We've done a lot of the groundwork. Once we start construction, it shouldn't be too long."
Kenneth Konkol, assistant director of Homestead Electric Utility, expects groundbreaking next month, Mr. Ivy said. Much of the necessary equipment for the substations has been ordered, Mr. Ivy said.
Revenue from the sale of part of city-owned Homestead Park of Commerce and a $1 million federal grant will help fund the project.
The substations are to be connected to Florida Power & Light's transmission system and double Homestead's existing transformer capacity. Tom Sanders, transmission business manager for FPL, said the connection has not been formally arranged but would be a normal business transaction.
"Homestead is a transmission customer," he said. "They purchase the right to use the transmission just like anybody else." Mr. Sanders said such arrangements are often made to "avoid duplication of facilities."
The Renaissance Substation will be in Homestead Park of Commerce on the east side of the city, Mr. Ivy said. Redland Substation will be on the city's west side on Redland Road.
"Renaissance will be done first because of the growth in that area. The development was so intense out there, we decided to give that the priority," Mr. Ivy said.
The commercial development boom in the east is due in part to the construction of the new Homestead Hospital facilities on Campbell Drive.
The new substations are "going to help our capacity," Mr. Ivy said. "It's also going to help our reliability. If one line goes down, we'll have another way of getting electricity to the city."
Barry Moline, executive director of Florida Municipal Electric Association Inc., the trade association of Florida's 33 public power utilities, said a need for expansion in Homestead is not surprising.
"The general statistic is that Florida is gaining 1,000 people a day," he said. "We're adding people where land is available and where it's less expensive, and a big growth area in South Florida is Homestead."
Homestead purchases power from several companies, including FPL.
Homestead Energy Services employs 84 people. Mr. Ivy said the completion of the substations will not drastically affect employment.