Some recent positive news came from Florida Power & Light’s public relations department, who has been working overtime lately to counter the volcanic eruption of discontent that’s come from outraged ratepayers and solar small businesses who have been victims of FPL’s pursuit of higher profits.
According to the company, workers have improved the reliability of Northwest Florida’s power grid by 58% since 2018. FPL took over operations of Gulf Power in 2019 and has since been installing “smart grid technology” that the company says helps to get power back faster in the case of issues from natural disasters.
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An FPL spokesperson said the type of improvements being made to the Panhandle grid have reduced major storm outage time from more than five days to about two days in other parts of Florida. And FPL says that ultimately saves money on repair time and personnel costs, as well as personal expenses and potential household losses for homeowners during a storm.
The smart grid devices allow the company to pinpoint and isolate problems and reroute electricity so that the fewest number of customers are impacted in the case of an outage.
This is all great news for residents, especially when the next inevitable hurricane or tropical storm comes our way.
But such good news doesn’t negate the fair outrage of homeowners and businesses who have been treated poorly by a state-sanctioned monopoly who is squeezing strapped residents even as it has wasted millions on dishonest public relations campaigns, shady political contributions, exorbitant executive salaries and bonuses and un-American efforts to kill honest economic competition from small solar businesses by rigging state laws.
The grid-hardening news underscores an important distinction for unhappy local ratepayers to make.
There are many good, honest and trustworthy employees, engineers and workers at FPL. Many are our friends and neighbors who were previously employed by Gulf Power, as well. Many of these men and women have risked their own health and safety by responding to damage and disasters in order to restore power when our community needs it most.
But these people are worlds away from the lobbyists, executives, consultants and politically-purchased legislators who have continuously abused the public trust by rigging laws and policies that hurt average citizens.
The line workers who sweat in the brutal summertime heat have virtually nothing in common with the dishonest executives at FPL who have overseen phony campaigns in recent years to crush burgeoning rooftop solar companies that offer the ability to liberate individual citizens from the increasing burden of a monthly power bill and the expansion of affordable clean energy.
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Average employees and line workers do not deserve the scorn that FPL’s corporate leadership has earned through years of dumping piles of cash onto compliant Florida legislators who have been more than willing to betray the local citizens they are supposed to represent.
But the corporate and political leaders involved with FPL’s extensive history of greed and dishonesty absolutely deserve everything that the citizens of Northwest Florida have been throwing at them. While many average employees work hard daily to serve our community, the political class at FPL has been working to exploit the people of our community, just as it has done to citizens all over the state of Florida.
Northwest Floridians need to maintain the volume and intensity of the recent discontent. Voters should refuse to reelect any state legislator who refuses to publicly condemn FPL’s actions against both ratepayers and solar small businesses.
And citizens should demand policies that prohibit state-sanctioned monopolies like FPL and its parent company from wasting money on politically-motivated expenses like lobbyists, campaign donations, consultants and PR campaigns that seek to dupe voters and attack small businesses.
If FPL can’t compete in the arena of free market capitalism, then why should it use government-guaranteed profits to finance its corporate “free speech,” especially when it is weaponized against the residents and businesses in Northwest Florida who it exploits for profit in the first place.
So we praise FPL’s investments in grid-hardening and new technology. That’s exactly the sort of things the company should be investing profits on.
And we praise the engineers and workers who are hardening the local grid and helping Escambia and Santa Rosa counties stand stronger when the next big storm comes our way.
But FPL’s leadership and the weak elected officials who refuse to speak out against it should continue to face strong and necessary criticism from local citizens. Because if they do not, the monthly power-bill beatings will most certainly continue.