City Commission, during its March 9 meeting, approved a 90-day deferral to the planned electric utility rate increase of $0.009/kWh, originally scheduled to begin on April 1.
According to Electric Utilities Director Dan D’Alessandro the increase is meant to, “Facilitate the undergrounding of residential service wires without impacting the timeline of the entire program completion.”
Mayor Phil Anderson suggested the increase be deferred until long-term program funding could be evaluated with the Utilities Advisory Board. Commissioner Sheila DeCiccio agreed, citing a previous discussion she had with D’Alessandro regarding supply chain impacts to the undergrounding effort.
D’Alessandro took the podium to elaborate on the issues.
“We bought a transformer in April of 2021 for $9,000, that same transformer today is $29,000,” he said, adding that lead times for equipment orders have increased to more than 100 weeks. “It may come down to the fact that we have to slow down the advancement of the undergrounding because we just can’t get the equipment,” he said.
D’Alessandro also added that the City’s existing equipment inventory will keep the project on track for the remainder of the current fiscal year, which runs through September 30.
Here, D’Alessandro answers questions from the32789 regarding the utility undergrounding project:
How far along is the undergrounding of residential utility lines and how much is left to go? We are 71% complete, there are around 37 miles left to complete of the 127.5 original miles.
Is there a timetable for the completion of the undergrounding? The goal is to have the undergrounding complete by the end of 2026, excluding the services to houses that have been missed in the past.
How much does the rising cost of fuel play into the rate increase and the undergrounding? The fuel cost has no effect on the rate increase. Fuel rates will fluctuate depending on market conditions. The rising cost of fuel does impact our supply chain, mainly in the cost of delivery of materials.
Commissioners agreed to schedule two further discussions on the undergrounding project, and funding, within the next 90-days. The recorded meeting can be viewed here.