Tampa Electric Company's growth plans are reshaping the tranquil picture Newland Communities envisioned when it created FishHawk Ranch.
The pond and walking trail that now flank the eastern side of the community soon could be overshadowed by 120-foot-tall high-voltage power poles.
The lines will provide electricity to the equivalent of 100,000 homes, beginning about 2017.
In a recent news release, TECO announced it is moving ahead with plans to increase capacity at its Polk Power Station, and get that electricity to consumers using the proposed high-voltage lines.
"Expanding the Polk Power Station provides the best value to customers based on cost, reliability and flexibility, as well as environmental performance," said Gordon Gillette, president of TECO. "We are committed to meeting our customers' needs for safe, reliable and cost-effective electricity."
TECO has several power-purchase agreements that are about to expire, and the company is seeking new sources of electricity. Expanding the Polk plant is the most cost-effective way to do that, the company has determined.
The exact route of the lines is not settled, TECO Spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs said. "We are committed to working with the community through the design process and that is expected to begin in early 2014," she said.
Newland Communities Senior Vice President Rick Harcrow previously said he planned to speak with TECO officials about possibly moving the lines east into an existing right of way and farther from homes in FishHawk Ranch and other nearby communities.
Harcrow last week said Newland is disappointed TECO is proceeding with its plan to install the tall poles and high lines. Newland, he said, will continue to work on behalf of FishHawk Ranch residents on the design, placement and height of the poles.
FishHawk residents living in sight of the proposed high lines have attended meetings to voice their opposition to the plan.
In coming weeks, Jacobs said, TECO plans to file two documents to move the plan along — a sight certification application with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and a petition of need with the Public Service Commission.