Dear FPL: Why Have 1887 Electric Lines In 2017?






If you’re like me, you had a triple header and lost electric, cable and telephone service courtesy of Irma.  As I am writing this, I am grateful that at least I’ve gotten electricity back.

Comcast told me that I will be getting service back when its equipment that piggybacks electric/telephone poles is repaired.

I responded that I have underground utilities in my neighborhood.  Comcast explained that I lost my service because of damaged polls that feed into my “modern” neighborhood.

All this leads me to ask the following question:

Why, in 2017, are we delivering utilities with the same design that Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison gave us 130 years ago!!!!



The picture above was taken this week on University Drive in Lauderhill.



The one above was taken in New York City in 1887!!!





I don’t know about you, but I don’t see all that much improvement.

If planes, cars and computers had progressed at this rate we would now just be flying in Ford Tri-Motors, driving stickshift LaSalles and loading punch cards into a UNIVAC as big as a football field.

It’s time for Florida to form a blue ribbon commission of engineers, community leaders, utility experts, economists, financial experts and others to look into the long term cost and benefit putting utility lines underground.

My limited research on the subject showed me that the information out there on this question is all over the place… particularly when it comes to cost. That’s why we need an impartial study.

I’ve seen estimates from $2500 to $20,000-per-house.  I’ve also seen that when cities contract for the work they do it a hellava lot cheaper than FPL.

I’d also want the panel to determine all the indirect costs of power failures such as business and school closures.

What I would not want is for the kiss ass Public Service Commissioners or utility executives to serve on the body.  Under that scenario the fix would be in.  Certainly they can be witnesses and offer all the material and testimony they wish.

In the meantime I will still keep looking at our 19th century utility solutions, now with sneakers hanging from them, and wondering if there’s not a better alternative.


10 Responses to “Dear FPL: Why Have 1887 Electric Lines In 2017?”

  1. City activist Robert Walsh says:

    Wow.Boo-who.I mean FPL.has done an amazing job restoring power.We went through a cat.4 hurricane(got that Mayor Seiler but two days after the cat.4-you decide to hold a budget hearing-thank you Comm.Trantalis for voting no way Jose).I mean reallt.So what you can.t use the internet.Go to the library.To criticize or should i say critique FPL is so inappropriate…

  2. Sam The Sham says:

    Underground utilities would be an improvement but it is not a cure-all. Underground is more expensive to install, marginally more in new developments but crazy expensive more in existing areas. Underground systems need to be sealed from the elements, especially in low lying or flood prone areas or areas with a high water table (That’s us). Underground systems are more resistant to damage, but when they are damaged are incredibly difficult to work on.

    How about a system where we eliminate as much government mandated (and protected) monopoly as possible. Why not have the infrastructure (the underground and above ground system) owned by the municipality, county or even the homeowners association, and grant 10 year leases to competing utility companies? If they do a lousy job or break the contract, you fire them. After 10 years you re-bid the contract and maybe get a different utility company. Florida Plunder and Loot could be reduced to a power generating company only and sell its output to the competing utilities.

    I don’t know all or any of the answers but I would guess that if allowed, in a generation or two, most homes would have their own power generating plants and communications like TV, internet and telephone would all be wireless.


    As you wrote, underground is not foolproof. This is especially true in South Florida, with its low elevation and salt water intrusion a few feet below ground.

    Despite all the ire against FPL, its rates remains among the lowest in Florida, according to the Florida Public Service Commission. Far lower than Gainesville, a municipal system, which I paid for a decade during the years my sons went to the University of Florida.

  3. SC says:

    Simple. $$$$ over service. As long as utility companies are monopolies and can pass costs on to customers… no innovation… no cost savings… no concern for delivering effective, efficient service.

    signed ex-wife of FPL engineer and friend of retired lineman supervisor…

  4. Florida Flicker and Flash says:

    Fpl wines and dines and does so many favors for the elected, that the franchise is solid gold and can never be touched. And if it comes due, they spend millions to tell the customer how great thou art.

  5. John Henry says:

    This article makes me realize what a brilliant decision it was to put a new streetcar system in with overhead wires.

    We sure do have some geniuses running the city.

  6. City activist Robert Walsh says:

    #5.Exactlt also to point out at 5million dollars a pop.

  7. Ha Ha Ha says:

    If homes simply connected wirelessly to each other, then Internet access would not depend upon Comcast, AT&T, etc. at all. And it’s not very expensive; two neighbors who live 2 miles apart can create a permanent 400 Mbps wireless data link between themselves for only $299. If they live closer together, then their data link will be even faster, up to 750 Mbps!….

  8. Sharon Graham says:

    Since Hurricane Katrina ( 11 or 12 years ago) when FPL failed to maintain their poles and northeast Ft. Lauderdale had no power for two weeks,I have written EVERY SINGLE check out to Florida Plunder and Loot and they have cashed them! There were no refunds for the two weeks with no power and until I receive a refund I will continue my little protest. The problem with the Public Service Commission (appointed by the governor) is that they are all lawyers! We need some “regular people” on that board like teachers,plumbers, cops, fireman,ect. I have nothing against lawyers(my kid is one), however, that board needs to be diverse and not just political appointments!!

  9. GFLL says:

    Downtown Fort Lauderdale needs Google Fiber (now being deployed as wireless),
    known as Webpass in Miami.

    Internet access competition to Comcast/AT&T and you will see better service.

  10. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    Since the City was re-wired after 1926 and most wires are post 1950 this article is fact- challenged.