American Way 01/24/2008

FPL - Third Times a Charm

It takes FPL two service calls and three attempts to restore electrical service to my house.

Last Monday it started raining about 6:45 in the morning. My wife left with my older son to take him to school. She called right after leaving the house and said that the power pole across from my neighbor's house had sparks shooting out of the top. The sparks were so bright that it looked like daylight. A couple minutes later, the power went out. I waited about ten minutes, then called FPL's 800 number. The message said that a repair crew had been dispatched, and that my power would be back on within an hour. It stopped raining, so I went out in my car to see what was happening. I ran into the FPL bucket truck at the entrance to our neighborhood. He was going to replace the fuse that was blown. I told him about the sparks coming out of the pole in front of my neighbor’s house. He said great, cause there's over thirty poles in our neighborhood, and he didn't know which one was shorted. He drove down the street with me to have a look at the pole. Now keeping in mind that he is driving a bucket truck, he looks up at the lightning arrestors on the top of the pole with a pair of binoculars, and says "nothings wrong with those". He ask me to stay there and watch the pole while he goes to the front of the neighborhood and replaces the fuse. So, I stand there, the power comes back on, and he drives back down the road to me. He says"Ya, there's nothing wrong with those", and says he's all done. Maybe he's right?

So, now we fast forward to the following Sunday night. It starts raining about 6 PM. About 6:15 the pole starts shooting sparks again. About 6:20 the power goes out again. This time, my house turns back on, but over half(39) the house don't have power. So, I wait ten minutes, and my neighbor’s power doesn't come back on. So, I dial up FPL, and press zero about 25 times, and actually get a human on the phone. I tell him the story from earlier in the week, and he says he'll try and get in touch with dispatch in Orlando(about 120 miles from my house). So I get in my car, and drive to the front of the neighborhood and wait for the FPL truck. About 7:30 he shows up. I tell him my story about the pole. He says lets see it, so we drive down the street, and pull up next to the pole in the pouring rain. He doesn't get out of the truck, he just shines a spot light on the top of the pole, and looks at it with binoculars, and says "there's nothing wrong with those lightning arrestors, I'm going to go back down and replace the fuse".

At this point, I just go back to my house, since my power is on, I'll just be a typical American and only worry about myself. About a half hour later, my neighbor’s power comes back on. About five minutes later the pole starts sparking. Someone calls me from a local FPL telephone number and ask me if the power is back on. Five minutes after that, the power goes out. So, I now have the local FPL number on my cell phone, so I try calling back to tell them that the power went out. They don't answer. I called back three times, and no one answers. Now, at this point I'm a little mad, so I get in the car for a third time and drive to the entrance of my neighborhood, and the two guys are just sitting in the truck. I get out of my car in the rain, walk up to the truck, and they ask "What's wrong". I tell them that the pole started sparking when the power came back on, and now the power's out. I say a couple of other choice words, and they guy rolls up his window. I go back to my car and go home. Ten minutes later I see the truck drive up to the pole, across from my neighbor, that was sparking. This time he actually gets in the buck and takes a look. They work for over an hour replacing one of the two lightning arrestors. It's now 11 PM. The message said the power would be restored by 9 PM. If they had listened to me, it might have been. They go back to the entrance and replace the fuse. The power is finally restored at 11:30.

So, were these two guys just sucking up overtime? Were they just lazy? I could have let them go all night replacing fuses, and trying to figure out which pole was shorted.

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