Hurricanes a Wake Up to Utility Companies

Two years of hurricanes have sent a wake up call to the states power companies and state regulators. At a hearing Friday in Tallahassee, the Public Service Commission advanced ideas to begin putting more power lines under ground. The question comes down to who will pay.

Florida Power and Light is proposing paying 25 percent of the cost of burying power lines if local governments will pick up the rest. South Florida cities came to say let’s get moving.

Enrique Lopezis is a Technology Consultant with the city of Coral Gables. “Hurricane Wilma will be remembered for the impact it had in our state.”

But the devil is in the details. FP&L told Alan Platner and 6443 other homeowners in the Boca Woods Subdivision that their unincorporated area of Palm Beach is not eligible for the 25 percent offer. Platner is concerned. “The essence is they’re discriminating against you because you’re really in an unincorporated area.”

“Right. Right.”

“How do you feel about that?”

“Terrible. Terrible. I think that is something that is grossly unfair and has to be corrected. And we’re not gonna go away.”

One new plan being floated would assess every new hookup, be it home or business, $1,000, with that money going to offset the cost of underground.

From the hearing, one thing is clear. The idea of burying lines and making other lines stronger is now on the front burner.

Kevin Bloom is a PSC Spokesperson. “I think everybody feels the pressure. I don’t think it’s just the utilities. I think the legislature, this commission and the utilities combine feel pressure.”

But it is going to be months before any plan is even in place, leaving residents to cross their fingers with hopes of getting through this hurricane season with the light still on.

When the PSC develops rules for burying or hardening power lines, they will apply throughout the state, not just in FP&L territory.