I take no comfort in criticizing any city or their elected officials. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t say how shameful it is that several municipalities are conveniently placing all the blame for the power outages caused by Hurricane Irma on Florida Power & Light.
Yes, losing power is terrifically aggravating. Just ask anyone who didn’t have electricity for a week or more – but the vast majority of the people living across the county did.
In fact, within a week of the storm, FPL had restored service to 99 percent of customers affected by the storm that swept the entire Florida Peninsula.
I’ve come to learn that Miami-based MSP Recovery Law as well as Dorta Law have filed a class-action lawsuit against FPL for inadequately maintaining its infrastructure and equipment, which allegedly resulted in the loss of power to nearly 4.4 million customers statewide. Here’s the rub: The law firms are seeking between $2 and $3 billion in damages. Yes, that’s Billions with a “B.”
Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the storms of 2004 and 2005 put out the lights for many, many more days. From where I stand, it’s clear to see FPL has improved its hardness to tropical storms and hurricanes tremendously. I can’t say enough good about FPL’s restoration.
Utilities are responsible for girding and protecting their power plants, transmission lines, and poles. And clearly, some damage is unavoidable during severe storms like Irma whose winds exceeded 90 mph.
But the potential for damage becomes exponentially greater in municipal areas featuring dense vegetation and overambitious programs aimed at increasing the tree canopy – apparently at any cost.
In the past, FPL complained that cities really needed to cut back foliage along their tree-lined streets. The utility notes that trees were planted by the city in dangerous locations far too close to power lines. Other trees appear to have been planted too close together, preventing their root systems from being able to grow properly and hold the ground securely in high winds.
And it has also come to the surface that a local elected official is actually employed by one of those firms, MSP Recovery, pointing to possible motivations other than civic virtue for deflecting blame to the utility.
If the attorneys going after FPL for billions in damages prevail, their firms stand to collect millions and millions of dollars, while we ratepayers potentially end up getting hit with higher bills for years as the utility recovers the costs of the suit. Who wins? The greedy law firms do.
When the power goes out, we lose everything – but some even lose their sense of decency.