The Acreage Landowners’ Association will host a meeting regarding Florida Power & Light service in the Acreage/Loxahatchee area on Thursday, Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. at the Hamlin House, located at 14893 89th Place North in The Acreage. All interested residents are invited to attend.
Longtime resident Ken Bell has spearheaded the meeting because of his concern regarding electrical disruptions in the area.
Since Bell and his family moved to their new home, they’ve experienced a number of issues with their power service.
“We just don’t deserve this kind of poor service,” Bell said. “I got to the point where I said enough is enough.”
Bell posted in the Acreage Speaks group on Facebook to express his grievances. When the response indicated that others are having similar issues, he found out that the problems affect many residents in the area.
“I decided to have this meeting, and a lot of people are in favor of it,” Bell said. “I have a feeling that we’re going to have a very good turnout.”
FPL spokesman Bill Orlove confirmed to the Town-Crier that FPL representatives will be on hand at the meeting to hear residents’ concerns and address them where possible.
“Staff from FPL will present what we see are the issues going on in Loxahatchee and how we’re going to be able to resolve them,” Orlove said. “We are aware of the issues that our customers have experienced, and we understand how important reliable power is to our customers. We apologize for any inconveniences that they may have seen over the past couple of months. We are executing a detailed plan to address the power delivery issues that we have seen in the area, and we have identified some areas or opportunities for improvement.”
One thing that is important to be aware of, he explained, is that there is a difference between what FPL considers an outage and a momentary flicker.
“A brief, momentary outage, or flicker, is where lights go on and off quickly, for less than a minute,” Orlove said.
The system, he explained, detects interference on one of the power lines and shuts off electricity to a section of that line for a brief amount of time. For example, if a palm frond comes in contact with the line, that may cause a flicker.
Vegetation and weather are often the culprits for interference, Orlove explained, but strategically placing vegetation can decrease problems. FPL provides a program explaining the optimal placement for plants, which can be found at www.fpl.com/trees.
“Our company is committed to providing reliable service to our customers. One of the leading causes of outages, or brief power interruptions, is vegetation,” Orlove said. “We are very proactive throughout the year. We trim about 15,000 miles of vegetation from our power lines, and that’s to ensure that our customers have reliable service. We also try to educate customers about planting trees and other vegetation in the right place.”
Weather problems aren’t always as obvious.
“Sometimes weather-related problems don’t surface until a couple of days after a storm,” he said. “If a hard storm comes though and it does leave a lot of rain that becomes ponded, or flooding in an area, if that interacts with any of our equipment and causes an outage, our crews aren’t able to restore power until the water recedes, because electricity and water don’t mix.”
Underground equipment cannot be diagnosed until the water recedes, Orlove noted, which can also cause a delay.
FPL is working diligently to clear vegetation from the main power lines serving the Acreage/Loxahatchee area, Orlove said, noting that the company is making efforts to strengthen its electrical system throughout the 35 counties that it covers.
One step they are taking is to replace wooden poles with more storm-resilient concrete poles. The concrete poles, he explained, deliver more reliable service throughout the year.
Smart Meters, which are utilized extensively as tools for many homes, are an advanced way for FPL to detect power outages. The meters work in conjunction with FPL’s power tracker, available at www.fpl.com/powertracker, where residents are able to type in an address and detect if there is an outage in the area, the estimated time of power restoration and if there are crews in the area. The power tracker allows users to see down to the neighborhood level if there are outages.
“We are committed to restoring service to our customers — all of our customers — as safely and as quickly as possible,” Orlove said.
During the meeting, FPL’s presentation, he explained, will focus on exploring what the company is doing in the area to improve service.
“We will continue to work hard to improve reliable service to the customers in Loxahatchee, as well as we do throughout Palm Beach County and the other areas that we serve,” Orlove said.
For more about the meeting, visit www.acreagelandowners.com.