Florida Regulations Delay Power Restoration for Thousands After Irma

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Top Tier Gear USA

irma

Hurricane Irma hit Florida September 10, 2017. As of the writing of this article, September 21 – 11 days after Irma struck – more than 100,000 people are still without power. If you’re a State Senator, however, you can be sure that you are not one of those 100,000 people (read our article here).

If you’re not one of the politicians that work hand in hand with Florida Power & Light to give it the protected status it needs to NOT place customers as a top priority, well, you just might be one of those 100,000 or so folks still sitting in the dark at night and the 90 plus degree heat of the day.

Those very politicians that can benefit from having a direct connection to the top leadership of Florida Power & Light are the same people that you can thank for slowing down the recovery time from Hurricane Irma.

Do you know it’s illegal to power your home with solar panels if you are not connected to the central power grid? So, you might be saying, if the power gets cut off from Florida Power & Light you can just use your solar panels to power your home, right? Nope. People with solar panels are not allowed to use them because, in so doing, they might endanger the workers who are restoring power to their neighborhoods.

There is no legitimate reason whatsoever to force people to connect their solar panels to the central grid. That regulation was pushed through with great and costly lobbying efforts by Florida Power & Light, the same company that rushed to restore the power of a Florida State Senator when she texted the Vice President (again, read our story here). The ONLY reason those regulations were passed was to protect FPL from the competition of individual self-reliance and self-sustainability.

Efforts to get Florida Power & Light to build underground power lines were met with costly litigation, delaying the breaking of ground on beginning the process of building power lines underground by years. In July of this year, the city of Miami voted to pay FPL $27 million to not build new power lines and leave existing underground power lines in place at least for the next 40 years.  That’s right, the city had to pay off FPL to just MAINTAIN existing underground power lines (read that story here).

How much of Florida’s power lines could be underground today if FPL wasn’t busy blocking any efforts to attempt to get it to start converting to underground power lines? How many smaller companies competing for customers would have found an incentive to make such moves in a state that has seen a regular diet of hurricanes, even tropical storms that regularly take down power lines and put people in the dark?

Let’s take a look at another reality in Florida, monopoly. Is Florida Power & Light the only game in town because they offered the best services for the best price? Hardly. FPL is an artificially-created power monopoly, one created by special regulations and rules that politicians created, the same politicians who receive millions of dollars in campaign donations from this same company, FPL.

The fact that Florida has only one power company means that innovation, experimentation is all-but dead in the sunshine state when it comes to “public” power. It also means that one company, and one company alone, must be the central planner for restoring power to millions of people (at one point, nearly three quarters of Floridians were without power) rather than having a few different companies serving smaller communities, companies that would have had a better understanding of the unique needs and circumstances of those local areas.

What’s more, if FPL follows the patterns of the past, customers can except price increases after the Hurricane, as well as additional “storm fees” to help “pay” for the extra cost of restoring Florida’s power. FPL can take these measures because it is a protected monopoly, one that spends far more money investing in lobbying the government than in storm preparedness.

FPL writes mega checks to powerful politicians, the people who can write the rules and regulations that give it protected monopoly status and assure that people don’t get the crazy idea in their head that they can somehow go off grid and not rely on FPL at all.

FPL promises its customers that they will have their power restored by Friday, September 22, but they make no promise to assure their customers that they will not continue to use their profits to pay off politicians to assure that, at the end of the day, the safety and security of power for individuals in Florida takes a back seat to protecting your powerful, very rich ally, Florida Power & Light.

Without government, who will force you to remain dependent on a central power source that is not reliable and has no great market incentive to change that reality?

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Contributed by Paul Gordon of iState TV.

Paul Gordon is the editor of Istate.tv and co-host of numerous podcasts including VisPrivus, Lulzilla and Full Auto. He is also the publisher of a local digital newspaper, the Tioga Freedomist

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  • If a utility worker isn’t smart enough to check for voltage on every circuit, we can hire one that is to replace him.

    • Problem is what happens AFTER you checked.

      • SP_88

        They should be careful, and not touch the power lines, which they should do anyway.

        • How does the worker repair the line without “touching” it?
          He can’t he has to touch it, sure they have gloves but there are so many other factors at play when dealing with high voltages. High humidity can provide a shorter air gap distance for example.
          Just not wise to chance with someones life.

      • Which is why it is smart to short everything until it is time to repower, although that is usually to prevent static buildup.

  • ReverendDraco✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ᵃᶜᶜᵒᵘᶰᵗ

    “Without government, companies could just form monopolies and charge whatever they want & do whatever they want and there’s nothing you could do about it!”

    If I had a dollar for every time I heard that, my wife and I could take a nice vacation.

    Fact is, without government, there can be no monopolies. Without government, a competitor can always come along and do the same thing for a better price and / or at a higher quality.
    It’s not rocket surgery, for crying out loud.

    • There is nothing in the Constitution that mandates either a monopoly or an absence thereof.

      • ReverendDraco✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ᵃᶜᶜᵒᵘᶰᵗ

        This is true.

        Yes, the fact remains, government is a required element in the forming of monopolies.

        • It might be easier to say that corporations are a required element in the formation of monopolies, be they federal, municipal, public, or private.

          • ReverendDraco✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ᵃᶜᶜᵒᵘᶰᵗ

            Which goes back to government, that sanctions corporations.

          • And with conflict of interest, itself. All corporations have governance. Some governments are purely advisory, as in the native american culture.

  • SP_88

    It would be so easy to have a switch that disconnects the house from the grid so that their solar system doesn’t backfeed into it. It’s something they should do anyway since it could be a huge drain on their system if it’s trying to power up their house and the rest of the neighborhood.
    Of course this isn’t about safety, it’s about keeping people from being self sufficient and keeping them dependent on the government and public utilities.
    They have similar regulations regarding water. In many places it’s illegal to collect rainwater and store it. And they certainly can’t say that it’s dangerous for other people if you don’t have a public water supply in your home.
    And people are going to blame this on capitalism. They’ll blame these evil corporations who use capitalism to screw people over and get rich. But this isn’t capitalism. Capitalism would solve this problem by allowing another company to come in and provide a better service for a lower price, and FPL would be forced to react by lowering their prices to remain competitive or they would simply lose all their customers and go out of business.
    But that can’t happen here because of government regulations which have effectively shut down the free market and forced customers to be stuck with just one company.
    And my understanding of this is that this is illegal. I thought a monopoly was against the law for exactly this reason. But breaking the law doesn’t seem to be a problem for our government.

  • IQ140

    The author is incorrect. FLP is not the only provider but they are the largest.

  • Kendo

    I have been off the grid since Sept 10. It’s not looking like I’m getting back on anytime soon.

    • I’ve been off the grid since 1984, and I’ve no interest in returning to it.

  • Carl-Cathy Wisnesky

    Any homeowner using solar panels or a generator to power the home’s circuit breaker box simply flips off the main breaker to separate the circuit breaker box from the grid. Then the solar panels or generator can power needed breakers (fridge, AC, some lights) or the whole house if the generator is large enough. Solar systems have batteries & controls to keep the voltage steady so there is no damage to equipment or appliances. When grid power is restored, a neighbor or friend tells you the power is back, you shut down your generator, & then turn the main breaker back on to get grid power to your box.
    All properly installed & code inspected solar systems or whole house generators would have an auto-safety control that automatically shuts down the main breaker in the event of grid power loss to keep the linemen safe. If not, you just manually throw the main breaker to stop power from leaking back into the grid lines.
    So it does not matter what the laws might say – if you disconnect from the grid by flipping off the main breaker, you can use your solar panels & battery backup or a generator to power your circuit breaker box. Just make sure you only use as much power as your panels/batteries or generator can supply by shutting off non-essential breakers (stove, water heater, clothes washer/dryer, etc.)
    Everyone should know how to shut off grid power to your breaker box as one must do that to safely change a broken breaker or to shut off all power if you are going away for an extended period of time.