The post-Hurricane Hermine public relations battle has begun!
The Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA) released, through a public relations firm, a report on September 21st entitled “Data Points to Tallahassee Power Restoration Efforts Being on Par or Better Than Previous Major Storms.”
The report has been tweeted about and cited by news organizations, including the Tallahassee Democrat. You can see the Democrat story here.
The report is being portrayed as an objective investigation that shows, when compared to other storms, the City of Tallahassee was on par or better than previous storms when restoring electric power after Hurricane Hermine.
However, this is what was left out of the report.
First, the City of Tallahassee is a paying member of FMEA. FMEA’s website states their mission is to “advance the interests of its members.” A quick cursory of the Talgov.com, the official website of the City of Tallahassee, reveals that FMEA has received approximately $300,000 in regulatory fees and membership dues over the last three years from the City of Tallahassee.
Second, the comparison of storm restoration efforts, published by FMEA, includes one category 1 hurricane even though TR confirmed that there were four other category 1 storms that affected the continental United States since 2005. Also, while ignoring the category 1 hurricanes, the report included two category 3 storms from 2004 and 2005. For obvious reasons, the restoration efforts by the City of Tallahassee after Hurricane Hermine were faster than what occurred after more powerful winds of two category 3 hurricanes.
And third, the report provides no rationale or methodology about how the comparison storms were chosen.
After an independent review of information, the restoration of power after Hurricane Hermine by the City of Tallahassee may be deemed to be acceptable. However, for media outlets to cite or republish a report by an advocacy group without providing proper context is a disservice to their readers.
So the private citizens group has submitted their report. When is the city going to address the concerns on hurricane preparedness and response that people have raised?
Compare FPL response to hurricane and City of Tallahassee’s response:
FPL in Brevard: ‘We expect to complete power restoration to essentially all customers following Hurricane Matthew by end of day Sunday.’
Update, 5 p.m., Oct. 9
22,680 are still without power, while 203,730 have had power restored.
Update, 1 p.m., Oct. 9
36,570 customers remain without power in Brevard County, according to FPL. Power has been restored to 191,840 customers.
Update, 8 a.m., Oct. 9
FPL reports that 43,710 customers remain without power, while 186,360 have had power restored.
Update, 9 p.m., Oct. 8:
Only 78,660 customers remain without power, according to Florida Power & Light Co., while 159,010 have had power restored.
Update, 3 p.m., Oct. 8:
FPL reports that it has restored power to more than half of the customers affected by outages: 107,380 customers remain without power, while 130,290 had power
80 percent without power after a Cat 1 hurricane is unacceptable. We are the capital of the 3rd most populous state; the state with the most hurricanes, and the state with most experience with hurricanes. We can’t be shut down by a minor hurricane. The reality is that we could be getting hit with a hurricane in the panhandle while the Keys, S. Fla, or the east coast could be getting hit by another hurricane. Tallahassee as the capital needs to stay up and running through all disasters.
What is needed is an independent study to examine how to strengthen and harden our electric grid so that we we don’t have this happen again. The PSC inspects private power companies, why not let them inspect our city utility to help with this evaluation. We know we need to bury many major transmission lines, and we know we need to trim some trees and cut some trees. We should look at burying under the median, and under the asphalt. Let’s get an estimate for doing these things. Also, why not consider raising the power lines above the tree canopy for certain segments of the distribution network?
Another important step would be to begin a power pole replacement program for transmission lines we decide to keep above ground. Look at the poles on all major corridors. They are made of wood. Wood will snap in a Cat 3 storm. Lets start converting all poles that we decide to keep to metal or concrete.
Hurricane Kate hit 30 yrs ago as a Cat 2 and knocked down thousands of trees and many people were without power for 10 days to 2 weeks. That is unthinkable today except in a Cat 4 or 5.
Let’s learn from this storm. We have had 30 yrs since Kate, but the reality is, we could be hit in a couple of weeks with another hurricane, maybe even a stronger one. Or it could be another 30 yrs. Problem is, we can’t bet on the latter.
So let’s develop a plan to strengthen our electric distribution network so that we are able to withstand a blow from a Cat 1 with only a 10 % outage, and a 25 percent outage for a Cat 2, and 50 percent outage for a Cat 3. and 75 % outage for a Cat 4. And with a Cat 5, well, we hope that at least police, fire, and hospitals still have power.
We also need to enlist neighborhood associations; do tabletop exercises. Identify who has chainsaws. Identify key people to serve as liaisons. Plan for alternative means of communication. We need to learn from this storm and prepare for the future. As the website says: Get a Plan.
How much has Florida Power & Light donated towards Scott’s political campaigns?
Has TR sent anyone to cover the “Hurricane Hermine Community Meetings”? Per talgov.com: Tuesday, Sept. 27– St. Peter’s Anglican Church, 4784 Thomasville Road.
It’s listed as the last public meeting.
Could you provide a link to the Democrat’s article on this? Can’t seem to find it.
Still waiting on a story link. They did write one right?
The link has been added to TR’s story.
That’s an op-ed piece, written by somebody else? That’s what you meant by “cited”? The democrat is supposed to rebut every opinion it publishes? Lame.
Quality newspapers fact check submitted pieces for accuracy and context. This is not an opinion piece, it is a marketing piece put together by an advocacy group. What is lame is the Democrat would publish without comment.
FMEA is simply an apologist for the screw-up of the Tallahassee utility. The Democrat provides a disservice to its readers because it only has four or five reporters on its staff and they don’t have the time to find out about facts. Steve Stewart is right, we need an Authority to operate our utility
Why should our utility fees go to pay an association that lobbies against the best interests of the customers and taxpayers?