Maytinee Kramer/ Opinion Director
It took more than a week for FPL to restore power to my home. But still, thousands more were left without power and suffering in the sweltering heat.
Despite promising full power restoration to all east coast customers by the end of this past weekend, FPL’s Power Tracker map indicates that, as of Sept. 19, 16,940 customers in Miami-Dade were still without electricity—in total, 108,890 are powerless.
And for our friends on the west coast, you might have electricity restored by Sept. 22.
FPL is certainly taking their sweet time with things and doing a good job at leaving people in the dark. To show for it, residents are starting to get angry and very displeased with the current service.
While the power monopoly claims to have spent tens of millions of dollars in the past few years to “harden” its system so that it’s more resistant to hurricane damage, Hurricane Irma caused 90 percent of Florida to lose electricity. Granted, Irma was a larger scale storm that presented many and varied threats to the electricity system, but FPL should have been prepared.
Even some of FPL’s highly touted storm-ready technology didn’t work after Irma. After being directed by FPL to regularly check its mobile app and online service map to see if homes had power, residents were repeatedly given inaccurate information.
The constant inaccuracy and large number of powerless residents left many Floridians wondering if the power monopoly spent way too much on lobbying and government affairs and not enough on actually hurricane-proofing their power grids.
As reported by the Miami New Times, “FPL and its parent company, NextEra Energy, have for years heavily influenced state and local politics through donations, making billions in profits each year thanks to favorable state laws that are sometimes literally written by the power company’s own lobbyists.”
What’s more, FPL made it impossible throughout the state for residents to power their own home using solar panels. Instead, solar panels must be connected to the local grid, but should the power go out, the solar-power system must power down along with the rest of the grid. And you can’t even flip a switch to keep your panels going, but FPL can flip a switch on you without warning.
And if you’re wondering why FPL hasn’t buried its lines yet, it’s because the company has stubbornly resisted the solution for the better part of this decade.
FPL truly forces residents to remain reliant on the state’s private power companies.
Now, those who lost power after Hurricane Irma may soon be part of a class-action lawsuit against Florida Power & Light, according to the Miami Herald.
In the suit, the two firms, MSP Recovery Law of Kendall and Dorta Law of Coral Gables, argue that FPL collected storm charge fees every month to allow for trees near power lines to be pruned and for moving some power lines underground. But MSP lawyer John H. Ruiz claims that FPL never honored its promised.
“It was a wind and rain event, which is typical in South Florida. But this is a monopoly that agreed to provide services in South Florida where these events are foreseeable,” South Florida attorney Gonzalo Dorta said
It’s extremely frustrating for us to be without power. If you really think about, society can’t function without power or Internet.
Florida has remained patient with FPL’s unlawful monopolization long enough. If FPL can’t serve its customers as promised or efficiently, then maybe it shouldn’t be serving us at all.
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Featured Image: Shivam Panchal/PantherNow