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Posted on September 26, 2016
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.