Florida Keys Electric Cooperative is happy to announce the start of the Sea Oats Beach storm-hardening pole relocation project in Islamorada. With severe beach erosion threatening the stability of this vital section of transmission system, the project is necessary to protect power delivery from the mainland to the 80,000+ accounts south of mile marker 80.
Once surrounded by more beach, the poles are now being encroached on by the Atlantic Ocean. During Hurricane Irma, waves battered this equipment, nearly pushing over one pole requiring emergency repairs. To significantly storm harden this section and avoid future vulnerability, FKEC will install new, improved poles on the opposite side of US 1 between the Overseas Highway and a small side road on the bayside.
In addition to increasing reliability, the relocation improves public safety by minimizing the potential for a pole to fall into US 1. It also reduces distribution lines crossing the highway, eliminating lane closures for future maintenance or repairs. There are also environmental benefits which include removing the poles from the turtle nesting beach area and the wetland habitat near Sunset and Iroquois Drives.
Over the next several weeks, FKEC contractor Massey-Richards Surveying & Mapping will survey and mark the area. During all phases of the project, FKEC is committed to working with members directly impacted by any construction or vegetation maintenance and keeping the public notified of the project’s progress. While installing the new poles, which is estimated to begin in the fall or winter of 2022, there should be no significant power service interruptions or lane closures on US 1. FKEC and the utility contractor will work strategically to minimize any inconveniences in this area.
To help pay for this multi-million-dollar storm-hardening improvement, FKEC worked diligently to obtain a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant. In January of 2022, FKEC officially received a FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant covering 75% of the project’s cost, which amounts to approximately $7,500,000.
The Hazard Mitigation Grant comes from funds allotted by FEMA to Monroe County to further strengthen our infrastructure. With FKEC’s transmission system responsible for delivering power from the mainland to our service territory and beyond to the Lower Keys, relocating and further storm hardening our system at Sea Oats beach was deemed a top priority project by the County, State, and Federal Government.
FKEC will continue to keep our member-consumers informed on the stages of this critical project. Please note, this project is independent of FDOT’s work to raise the roadbed. For questions or concerns call FKEC at 305-852-2431.
We thank you for your support while we work to maintain 99.99% reliable electric service our members in the Upper and Middle Keys.
Starting in April 2022, the project is in the beginning survey phase. Construction of the new poles is estimate to start in the fall or winter of 2022.