Monday, November 29, 2010

Florida Power and Light - Treasure Island

At each of the city improvement meetings NBV has held in the last few years, the subject comes up of putting the power and phone lines on Treasure Island underground. This is years overdue.

Above ground power lines in an urban hurricane zone were a poor choice to begin with. The poles themselves have blown over in storms increasing the risk to our homes. On the one behind my house, the transformer exploded a few years back, starting a fire. The poles rot. Vegetation grows on them. All in all, a bad design choice.

Now FPL has been very careful to say that even if we put the wires underground, we cannot expect that the days long blackouts following a hurricane will improve in any way. According to FPL, there is no relationship between strong winds, downed power lines lying in flooded streets and power outages. They are FPL so they must know what they're talking about but it just seems obvious that underground wires don't fall over a lot.

I bring this up today because I had a classic FPL encounter this morning. A guy with heavy wire-cutters knocked on the door and announced that FPL would be cutting some palm trees behind my yard. This is an improvement over the last time five years ago when they used pliers to destroy the lock on my gate and enter, while I was in the house.

Anyway, after a half hour or so of desultory hacking away at my neighbor's palm tree, removing the lower branches but leaving the ones covering the power lines intact, the FPL crew decided it was a day's work well done and took off.

Except that they left a wire dangling about two feet above the pool.

Dangling power wires and water make me nervous and I went out in search of the truck. No luck. I called FPL at 1 PM, they told me someone would call me. I called back at 3 PM. FPL told me someone would call me. At 5 PM, I called again and as the customer service person was telling me that someone might call me, the truck pulled up.

The wire is now back where it belongs. It took about five minutes.

So my story ends well enough. Nobody died, or got shocked, or anything really other than inconvenienced but none of this would have happened if the city listened clearly to the residents and had the project to put the wires underground underway.

Kevin Vericker
November 29, 2010

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