The idea to bury overhead utility lines throughout the Village of North Palm Beach was first approved by the Village Council in The Village of North Palm Beach Citizens’ Master Plan Report of 2016. The concept has since been affirmed in the strategic planning process and the annual budget. The Village has selected Kimley-Horn to provide professional consulting services related to converting the overhead lines underground – otherwise known as “undergrounding.” The program will involve relocating all 37 pole-miles of overhead utility infrastructure in the Village, which consists of facilities owned by Florida Power & Light, AT&T, Comcast, and other utility providers.
The first step in developing a plan to underground the Village was to create a phasing map to identify the different areas that the municipality will be broken into for the purposes of design and construction. Kimley-Horn collected record information from the utility providers in the area and field reviewed the overhead lines in the Village to determine which types of facilities currently exist on the utility poles. This data was analyzed and a map was created that breaks the overall program up into multiple phase areas. These phase areas were developed based on numerous parameters including technical criteria, cost efficiency, and schedule efficiency.
After the phasing was established, the next step was to determine the sequence in which the different phases will be designed and constructed. Consideration was given to other work programs planned within the Village, as well as how to best progress through the areas in a manner that allows for smooth transitions between phases. The resulting Sequencing Map shows the projected years in which construction will being in each phase, should the Village Council ultimately approve moving forward with this program of improvements. This progression is the most effective given the considerations above, but can be modified if necessary.
Opinion of Program Schedule
The conceptual schedule that was developed for the program assumes that the Village Council approves of the program and that it begins in 2023. The design and construction of each phase area will be overlapped to reduce the overall duration of the program. This means that the design and construction of any given phase will begin while the previous phase is still underway. Such an approach is possible due to efficiencies that have been identified during the design and construction phases of similar programs in South Florida. A graphic of the schedule shows an overall program length of approximately 13 years. The schedule may be extended due to financial considerations.
Conceptual Opinion of Program Cost
Developing an order-of-magnitude opinion of cost for a program as complex as undergrounding an entire municipality involves making a variety of assumptions and qualifications about how the program will be executed. After reviewing these assumptions and qualifications with The Village, it was determined that the program cost in 2021 dollars is anticipated to be $206,300,00 after considering contingencies and projected inflation from 2022 to 2034. The table illustrates a breakdown of these costs. Third-party funding sources – such as federal, state, and local grant funding – will be considered to offset portions of the cost.
The Village’s financial consultant will develop funding options that consider the use of different sources of revenue as well as the best debt structure methodology. The funding options will consider the use of grants, general governmental funds, and special assessments. Costs for individual property owners will be determined in the future.