Frequently Asked Questions about Converting from Overhead to Underground

 
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Below, you will find some frequently asked questions about JEA's process for converting neighborhoods from overhead to underground electricity.

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Closed Title:How does a neighborhood get a project approved?
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To learn how a neighborhood can initiate a project to have power lines moved underground, please read the Guidelines for Overhead and Underground Conversion

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Closed Title:What is a special assessment?
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A special assessment is a legally imposed assessment on a property that may be approved by the Jacksonville City Council after petition from interested property owners. Generally, a certain percentage of owners within a project area must request and agree to an assessment (by signing a petition) asking for a capital project to be constructed and financed over time that will benefit the property owners. If approved by the City Council (only after the required level of participation by petition is demonstrated and the Council agrees), an annual assessment is added to each owner’s property tax bill for a benefited property for all pro rata costs of the project including financing costs for a period of years as specified in the approved assessment. The assessment is billed on the property tax bill until paid in full by each benefited owner.

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Closed Title:Does a benefited property owner have the option to pay their pro rata assessment costs up front?
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An owner may choose to pay the full cost up front (at the end of the project but before the actual assessment) or may pay off the current remaining balance in the special assessment at some future point.

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Closed Title:May the conversion costs for other utilities (such as cable or telephone) be financed through the special assessment?
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Yes, the special assessment will include the cost to convert all overhead utility distribution lines within the public rights of way (generally except for major feeders). If there are exceptions to this general policy, the neighborhood will be informed on a project specific basis. All costs of the conversion of any of the utilities will be repaid by the property owners in the neighborhood.

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Closed Title:Are individual service conversions to underground required?
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Individual service conversions are not required by JEA from the right of way to the structure. In electing to retain overhead service, a riser pole will be placed or remain at an appropriate location in the public right of way to support the overhead service. Owners may elect to convert at their own additional expense by hiring a private electrician during the project conversion or at some future point. If opted during project construction, individual service conversion costs may be financed as a separate portion of the assessment.

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Closed Title:While JEA may not require individual service conversions, do other utilities require it?
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Generally telephone and cable utilities will include full conversion costs in their estimates, including up to the structure. JEA suggests that the neighborhood or individual owners seek conversion costs estimates from licensed electricians for service conversions. JEA will not use its contractor(s) to perform any individual service conversion work. Other utilities may use approved contractors to do their work and costs will typically be included in those utilities’ project cost estimates.

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Closed Title:Can the conversion costs for individual services be financed through the special assessment?
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The conversion costs for individual services may be financed through the special assessment process as a separate item if the owner so elects during the petition process. The City and JEA reserve the right to reject individual service conversion financing through the special assessment if the work is not done by a licensed electrician or if the work is not permitted. No interior wiring or upgrades will be included in the conversion costs that can be financed.

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Closed Title:Is underground electric distribution service more reliable than overhead?
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In many cases customers experience fewer outages with underground distribution lines because they are not exposed to wind, animals, trees or tree limbs. In neighborhoods with heavy tree cover and desire to limit tree trimming, underground systems can provide for fewer outages. However, when outages do occur on underground lines, problems are not as visible to the repair workers and outages may take longer to restore/repair because the problem must be located before repairs can be made to underground lines or facilities. Overhead electric distribution feeders and other overhead lines typically connect to supply electric power to general areas of development or adjacent neighborhoods. Most conversion projects will be within well defined neighborhood limits. There will continue to be overhead lines beyond a selected project area, thus not eliminating all overhead exposure.

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Closed Title:Will the construction cause a lot of digging and inconvenience?
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Generally, the projects will be accomplished by directional boring or drilling underground conduit lines for the various utilities to pull their respective wire or cable types. Each utility’s lines must go in a separate pipe or conduit. There will be required minimum separations between various conduits in some cases. There will be some trenching and digging in order to install connection points, pull boxes for installing the wires or cables and manholes for access in the future. Where digging or trenching is required, the neighborhood paving and landscaping will be restored during the project to a similar condition as before the project began. Specialized materials or elaborate landscaping or hardscaping installed within the existing City right of way by adjacent property owners as an extension of their yards may only be replaced by City standard materials (paving and landscaping).

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Closed Title:Will there be a significant impact to trees in the right of way?
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All utilities will make a great effort to minimize impacts to the neighborhood and to minimize  impact to existing trees in the public rights of way. However, some trees may be impacted during construction and no obligation exists to replace trees except as required in the City landscape code and mitigation requirements. Also, some trees may already be at risk given their age and/or condition and no responsibility is assumed for such trees. Comcast will bore under trees and will try not to exceed the tree drip line when possible.

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Closed Title:Will all equipment in the right of way be placed underground?
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No. All utilities will have infrastructure elements that will be installed or remain above ground. Any of Comcast’s existing power supply locations will need to remain where they are. This will include all equipment boxes such as transformers, switch cabinets and connection boxes for all utilities. 

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Contact JEA Project Outreach for more information about the program:

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