The Westlake City Council on Monday, July 8 granted Florida Public Utilities a six-month time extension to run a gas pipe on an easement shared with Florida Power & Light along the M-2 Canal connecting to Westlake, and eventually the Arden community to the west.
FPU currently has temporary gas tanks on Westlake’s Pod F at the southeast corner of Seminole Pratt Whitney Road and the M Canal to service early residents in the developing community. Once the permanent gas lines are installed, the temporary gas service will be removed from the property.
The council issued the original permit in January 2018, according to Westlake Planning Consultant Nilsa Zacarias.
“The approval at that time was six months with the option of an additional three months,” Zacarias said, explaining that several extensions have been granted, and the current permit expires July 31.
FPU was granted an extension to Jan. 31, 2020.
Doug Moreland with FPU said the original proposal was for the gas line to run along the east side of the M-2 Canal west of Seminole Pratt Whitney Road.
“It was later asked for us to redesign and go on the west side of the M-2 Canal,” Moreland said. “That is where Florida Power & Light’s easement is, and we’re having to work with Florida Power & Light to get approval to put our permanent pipeline in that easement.”
Moreland said the most recent item requested was a mitigation survey to show the effects, if any, of a steel gas pipeline running alongside an alternating current (AC) power line.
“When you put gas pipelines next to power lines, you could have AC interference, so we’re going to do that survey and send it back to Florida Power & Light. After that, I suspect we will get their approval,” Moreland said. “Once we have that approval, we can continue working. What’s really causing the delay is getting final approval.”
Moreland said FPU’s contractors are on site and ready to complete the project.
“We tied into the Florida Citigas line at State Road 80 and Seminole Pratt,” Moreland said. “We also had to buy property at that intersection to put our regulator station and bring the pressure down to a delivery pressure for the transmission and distribution lines. We’re not only going to be feeding Westlake, we’re going to be feeding Arden. Until we get that approval, those crews, instead of working on this line, are actually working on the line going out to Arden.”
Moreland said FPL would like FPU at least 10 feet away from its power lines, but would prefer the gas line to be almost to the canal bank, adding that the gas line, when approved, would continue northward through the Westlake site and possibly into The Acreage for future expansion.
“We’re ready to run it. We have the crews onsite, and the pipe and materials onsite, but we cannot do it until we know the connecting route along the canal,” Moreland said.
Westlake Mayor Roger Manning asked if there is a Plan B if the proposed route should prove unworkable, and Moreland said the alternative route would be up Seminole Pratt Whitney Road, which would take more time due to the resolution of easement issues.
Minto Vice President John Carter recommended allowing the approval process to run its course before exploring alternatives, and to keep consideration of running the gas pipe on the east side of the canal on the table.
“The county could introduce a far more [ponderous] time than what you are experiencing now,” Carter said. “It’s not unusual or uncommon for you to have these assets collocated.”
Westlake City Manager Ken Cassel said the ideal method would be to collocate the utilities.
“We’re trying to leave that east side open for other items,” Cassel said.
Manning also asked about the status of the temporary gas tanks in Pod F, and Moreland said the portable tanks are monitored by satellite.
“We know the pressure at all times, and as needed, we switch out those tankers,” Moreland said. “We would like them out of there as soon as you would like them out of there, but there is no issue of maintaining gas supply to the current homes in the city until we can get everything worked out under permitting.”
Moreland added that FPU owns the company that supplies the tankers and has access to larger tankers if they become needed.
Carter said he noticed that when Westlake turned the heaters on for the water park, the tanks went down noticeably.
Manning asked if staff had any problems with the extension, and Cassel said there were none.
“I know dealing with FPL can be very protractive,” Cassel said. “It doesn’t surprise me of the time lag that has occurred.”
Councilman John Stanavitch made a motion to approve the extension, which carried 5-0.
In other business, the council approved the plat for a gas station and convenience store with a car wash across the street from Seminole Ridge High School near Westlake City Hall.