Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane. . .

The excerpts below are from an article written by Palm Beach Post staff writer Josh Hafenbrack.

“After [Hurricane] Frances struck Sept. 5 [2004], it took Lake Worth Utilities two weeks to fully restore power to its customers, about the
same amount of time it took FPL to restore
power to 2.8 million.”

Back in 2004, “Crews applied only Band-Aid fixes to sagging lines, mangled poles and a disrupted power grid.”

Newspaper clipping from October 2004:

2004: “The system is still unstable,” he [former city manager Paul Boyer] said. “That’s on top of the fact that it’s old and worn out and has a tendency to have failures anyway.

“There’s no doubt they have a maintenance issue. Linesmen from other utilities said, ‘this would not happen in our hometown.’ They haven’t maintained it. That’s a fact in Lake Worth.”
ibid. Quote by Dr. Robert Tome.

A lot has changed since 2004. Take for example how well organized the LWEU and the City were during and after Hurricane Irma especially as it related to getting the out-of-state linemen in place and ready to get to work. Here is a quote from City Manager Michael Bornstein:

[T]hese guys came in at 6:00 in the morning, they were fueled up, hit the street. We fed them there at the yard. We fed them in the field while they were working. Then they came home, we fed them and they went to bed. They got back up.
     That’s the life they’re living right now as mutual-aid [out-of-town] employees coming in. The more they work the more money they make, obviously. That’s something they’re focused on. They care about what they do. I think you met some of the folks, they’re really genuine people.

Starting with the “turning on of the lights” in 1914 our utility was a thing to admire throughout the State of Florida and the country. Having our own stable and reliable electric utility was one reason why people moved here. But then late in the 1990s and early 2000s things began to turn noticeably worse.

First there were the outages every few weeks. Then the daily flickering. Then the inexplicable outages in the afternoon on a clear sunny day. There were the reports of appliances “getting fried”, TV’s and refrigerators primarily. The explanations from the utility were “falling palm fronds” and “small dead animals”.

Remember, this was BEFORE the terrible hurricanes in 2004 and 2005: Frances, Jeanne, Wilma.

Following those storms all the fanciful notions about our electric utility were laid bare. An excerpt from this blog (click on link below):

“Nothing like this happened during Hurricane Matthew [in 2016]. Granted, we were spared the brunt of that Category 4 storm spinning off of our shores, and very few (at most 200) went without power for a short period of time. As I wrote this on October 9th, two days after the storm, the Town of Palm Beach reported that 103 properties are still without power on the island. If I’m not mistaken Lake Worth had everybody back on line by then. FPL, at the peak of the storm, had 60,000+ without power in PBC. . . .

. . . That number is nearly double the entire population of Lake Worth.”

But going forward there is no lack of political will to get all this stuff fixed.

I hope this blog post helps to put things in perspective. And, as always, Thank You for visiting today.