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Progress Energy says it probably won't buy homes in Brookridge

BROOKSVILLE — The plans are not final, but Progress Energy officials say they do not expect to have to buy any homes in the Brookridge area of Hernando County in order to build new transmission lines.

On Wednesday night, Progress representatives met with residents of the golf community and discussed the company's proposed route for the project. They showed maps and explained where the lines may be built.

While the company's plans are not final, it does not expect to have to buy homes in Brookridge, Progress spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs said Thursday. "We are still planning to build lines in that area, but we will not need to buy homes," she said.

But that did little to calm the nerves of many residents.

"They're saying 'probably' and 'maybe' but they don't want to commit themselves 100 percent," said Bruce Behrens, a Brookridge Community Property Owners board member. "We were hoping to get a definitive answer."

Last month, Progress revealed its proposed route for 200 miles of new transmission lines it intends to erect in the coming years. At a cost of $3-billion, the transmission corridor will carry high-voltage lines from the energy complex in Crystal River and a $14-billion planned nuclear complex in Levy County all the way to Polk County.

In Hernando, the corridor will follow existing routes that run parallel to the Suncoast Parkway, save for a small stretch north of Brookridge.

Maps indicate that residents who live in the area north of State Road 50 and near the utility's Brookridge substation could be affected by the construction of an east-west corridor.

Borders roughly consist of Sweet Gum Road to the south, Hexam Road to the north, Sunshine Grove Road to the east and Blanks Street to the west. From the western border, maps show that the lines will connect with other lines running north-south.

The company has said that the new lines would require a strip up to 250 feet to build. When it comes to existing lines, the amount of land needed is unclear.

And this is what has Brookridge residents nervous about what will happen to their homes. On Wednesday, they demanded answers in writing.

"We'll fight this if they come and take property," said Ed Kolbe, also a Brookridge board member. "The people who live here are all older people, and this upsets them a lot. Some of them are handicapped, and they wonder where they would live and what's going to happen.

"We want to work with (Progress), but we'll be on top of this and take it to court if we have to," Kolbe said.

Progress spokeswoman Jacobs said the company plans to start an in-depth study on the proposed route this summer. Once that's completed, options for more specific routes will be outlined.

"We will also gain a clearer understanding of what additional right of way is needed, if any is needed at all," she said.

Chandra Broadwater can be reached at cbroadwater@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1432.

Progress Energy says it probably won't buy homes in Brookridge 06/19/08 [Last modified: Thursday, June 19, 2008 8:27pm]
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