Seminole County lawmakers want response from Duke Energy

Seminole County Florida lawmakers have sent a protest letter to Duke Energy for not meeting its electricity restoration goals and state Rep. Bob Cortes has asked Duke officials to attend a county delegation meeting Tuesday to look into delays.

“Eight days after Hurricane Irma blew through our districts, the struggle for residents and businesses to get back to normal continues to be painfully exasperated by the lack of power. We are disappointed that Duke Energy has not made good on its promise to be fully restored by Sunday night, and we are concerned that sufficient progress has not been made toward its new goal of Monday night,” opens the letter written by state Rep. Bob Cortes of Altamonte Springs as the Seminole County delegation chair and also representing state Sen. David Simmons of Altamonte Springs, and state Reps. Scott Plakon of Longwood and Jason Brodeur of Sanford.

And they’re not alone. In neighboring Orange County, Reps. Bruce Antone, Kamia Brown and Carlos Guillermo Smith of Orlando are gathering information on the recovery of neighborhoods on Orange County’s east and west sides, and trying to get people in touch with Duke, especially in critical cases. And state Sen. Randolph Bracy of Oakland said he’s contemplating legislation that would require upgrades and underground wiring for older neighborhoods like Lake Jewell in Apopka that still are without power.

Bracy said he is concerned that the lengthier outages seem to affect the most vulnerable communities in his district, covering western Orange County, and he suspects it’s because of lack of investment in infrastructure upgrades..

“It’s just really disturbing,” Bracy said.

Smith said it is “not acceptable” that Duke has missed its goals, but said he was focusing on helping people get in touch with the company.

Antone and Brown were doing the same, with some successes, such as Tangelo Park, where Antone said about 24 hours after he called, about 20 trucks showed up and got the neighborhood turned back on.

“I’ve reached out to Duke several times. They’ve been fairly responsive. For whatever reason, the trucks show up in the areas I ask about. I want to say that they’re doing everything they can, but it’s a killer not to have power,” Antone said. “I didn’t get mine back until late Saturday.”

As of 3 p.m. Monday, 15,000 Seminole County homes and businesses and 19,000 in Orange County still were without power. Almost all of them are Duke customers, as other utilities have just about fully restored full service. Outside of South and Southwest Florida, and Highlands County, which has unique problems, those are among the largest outages left in Florida.

After Irma blew through the night of Sept 10 and 11, more than 300,000 customers in Orange and more than 100,000 in Seminole had lost power. Duke initially promised power back to all by Sunday, but has revised that target.

Cortes also has been raising questions about Duke’s responsiveness to individual residents and businesses that try to contact Duke, and who have reported receiving faulty information.

“We understand that power restoration after a natural disaster of this magnitude is a herculean task, but Duke Energy’s lack of transparency and effective communication about the situation and IT issues is trying its customers’ patience and eroding their confidence in Duke’s operation,” Cortes’ letter states.

Duke officials are being invited to Tuesday’s meeting in Seminole County to explain the delay of restoration of services there.

Smith also said he hopes House Speaker Richard Corcoran will at least assemble a special committee to examine ramifications of hurricane preparation.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected]


9 comments

  • Dina F

    September 18, 2017 at 9:24 pm

    I want to understand why
    My neighborhood has power yet I have only partial power. Ive called multiple times and a work order has been filled out. Ive flipped bReakers. I don’t have AC POOL PUMP STOVE MICROWAVE WASHER DRYER or Ligjts power in back bedrooms. Thank u

  • Fran Wyatt

    September 18, 2017 at 11:41 pm

    Monday, 9-18-17

    My power went off Sunday, 9-10-17, at 9:pm. Have called every day starting the following day. On Tues,9-12, began reporting it as Dangerous b/c I observed a Large limb had landed on the 2 wires from my house to the back pole & totaaly broken one. It was ripped from the pole & both lines drooping Much lower from weight.

    Continued to report it daily as an Emergency,Dangerous & Urgent b/c not sure if loose wire might spark.

    It is now, in 1 hour, DAY# 9 ….. Still have No A/C, stove, or 220 power.
    Was told by a young woman tonight who viewed my records it was a “voltage prob” …. And also they knew now it was not a pole prob but a broken wire. WTH? I explained I’d told them that EVERY time I’ve called. Each call has been documentd by me w day/date/time & person’s name … As well as what we discussed.

    Sun, 9-17-17, a man named James, called from area code 727 saying he was from Duke. Wanted to know if I had power…. ( doesn’t Duke know this information??). I told him I had No 220 power for 8 days & had a broken wire from the house to pole.

    His words were: “OK I will put that in & get a truck headed that way.”

    No one ever came so at 8:20 am today, Mon, 9-18 … I called AGAIN. Spoke w Kennetta, in Sanford,Fl…..She stated he didn’t mean he was sending a truck Then …. What???

    He meant one would come w/in 24 hours….. What ??? So, by 5: pm tonite – Mon – I asked ???? Well, No, It showed I would be restored by 11:pm tonite.

    Wrong. It’s now 11:30 pm… And I’m still Not restored. Plus NO one has texted me as promised with Updates or Changes. Never, not 1 text.

    Same with my son’s apartment…. Soltis on Goldenrod Rd, Winter Park. 8 days for him. On the 6th day, Thurs, ….Part of the apts restored…rest still dark & hot.

    Today late he called Duke… They told him he was still Out, promised to text him when power came on. He’s never gotten a text….. BUT he went there after getting off work and the power had come on today!!! Except Duke has Never notified him. Jordan Wyatt… Cell: 407-716-1703.

    This has been a Nightmare & Extremely UNprofessional for such a Large company. They do Not deserve rate increases nor for customers to be made to pay for the folly of their nuclear plant they chose not to build. Please see that this Huge debacle never happens again. My son & I are only 2 stories……thousands more are out there. Public foxrums/hearings need to be held.

    Ms. Fran Wyatt, Winter Park, 32792
    407-657-9122

  • Alan Zelt

    September 19, 2017 at 6:03 am

    My question is to why Duke Energy would not just state the simple fact that they do not have an adequate software response system capable of handling numerous outage calls or texts from the beginning of this crisis? The system kept on stating I was the first report of oyltage 25-30 times. Also ask why did they trim trees in a complex with underground power line with four power trucks for four hours?

    • Raynice Doe

      September 19, 2017 at 8:08 am

      Thank you Seminole County!! My neighborhood, Carrington Park was an excellent example of Duke’s unresponiveness. We lost power at 9pm last Sunday night before the worst of Irma and was restored on Monday afternoon (9/18) after the missed restoration date of Midnight Sunday. I called Duke and finally spoke to a live person who admitted they really didn’t know when power would be restored. The latest estimate was 11 pm but I should continue to call back for 3pm & 9 pm updates. I told them we were all getting different answers from Duke and were getting no updates which Duke offered to text to us. In our 8th day without power, No reliable info from Duke, a closed condo office with no one responding to the emergency phone number they provided, and hundreds of residents without resources, it was a desperate, unhealthy situation. After a hectic morning of calls for help. Governor Scott’s Office was extremely responsive. His staff very concerned and followed up with me on our progress. Seminole County Sheriff’s Office connected us to their office handling emergencies and arranged with American Red Cross to send food & water to our complex. Thank’s to ALL of you!! Power was restored and we had relief for do many without food & water. Very disappointed with Dukes unresponiveness and hope Seminole County can get yo the bottom of why some of us were treated so badly by them.

  • Vicki Coats

    September 19, 2017 at 9:11 am

    When you and your neighbors call multiple times and they tell you it is pending, there is a problem. When you call and get a message to reset your circuit breaker, there is a problem. When you call and they say that you are the first to report the problem after calling several times a day over eight days, there is a problem. When you call and they tell you that a truck is on your street and you are outside on a short cul de sac and no not one truck has come in your street, there is a problem. When your adult son calls to get an update in the seventh day of no power and they hang up on him, there is a problem. When you call once again on the eighth day of no power and are told that it has been fixed, there is a problem. When you explain to the call center that there are no trees down on the transformer but it has blown fuses and they tell you it is a mess but there are no trees or lines down around it, there is a problem. When they won’t drive on a new driveway to access their easement to their equipment because they might break the new drive pavers, there is a problem. When a neighbor literally begs and cries for an out of state crew to please follow her to our street two blocks away to give our neighborhood of 34 homes power, there is a problem. When those out of state crews fix the blown fuses in thirty minutes after being without power for eight days, there is a problem. Thank God for the out of state crews that were not Duke employees!!

  • Lisa Vlas

    September 19, 2017 at 9:35 am

    I’m in Orange County. Orange County needs to follow suit with Seminole and find out what the problem was. This would not have happened if we still had Progress Energy.

    My family was forced to leave our home because we are on a well. Combine that with no electricity and you have no water. It seems Duke does not consider having water (a basic human necessity) a priority. My family was fortunate to have family to go stay with but some of my neighbors did not have someone they could go stay with. Duke finally made it out yesterday to my street. They treat our area like a third world country. Where I live it seems like we are always last to receive assistance. We have asked for years for county water to no end. Maybe now people who live in our area will reconsider after not being able to flush a toilet for a week unless you purchased water. Because you know even filling the tub with water would not last an entire week.

  • Bonnie Voirin

    September 19, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    I just read a meeting tonight between commissioners and Duke energy will take place. Please address the issue why this morning 35 people lost power in Tuscawilla! We heard a transformer blow behind our house! No wind or trees etc! Hope they restore it soon!

  • Jean Pierre Sat

    September 19, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    My main concern is how do we improve moving forward. It is the year 2017 and heavy investment in better and safer infrastructure is needed in our communities. Especially old power lines in FLORIDA , where we have hurricane season EVERY YEAR. I have been without power for 9 days in orange county. I live right on the border of Maitland and Orlando, I spent the 9 days at my house watching my next door neighbor who is on the Maitland side and has underground electric power lines have electricity the entire time, while my neighborhood since it isn’t considered “priority” suffered for 9 whole days. Our neighborhood even lost power during hurricane Matthew last year, and nothing really happened then. Imagine what would of happened if hurricane Irma would of hit central Florida at a category 3 or 4 level? We have to be prepared, and bringing down those old, dangerous, poorly maintained power lines would be a great step towards that, where the entire community can benefit and not just a select few. Duke is also trying to raise there rates because of how expensive the costs were to repair the damages. I would rather take that money and invest in better infrastructure than repairing something broken, just because whoever is responsible doesn’t want to make the investment and put in the work to make this happen … whether it’s underground power lines which kept my neighbors house powered during the whole hurricane and after, or another new alternative solution, at the end of the day branchless tress with wires hanging from them going from house to house need to become extinct. #invest #infrastructure #wehavethetechnology #undergroundpowerlines

  • Sandra parkins

    September 22, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    I live in Winter Woods in Seminole Ct. I was told 3 yrs ago by Duke that my power goes off frequently because my street Hampton Circle is on an old power grid that needs replacing and they did have the funds to do it!!! Take some of Dukes CEO unconscionable BONUS and give us reliable modern day power! Please pass this on to Ct commissioners. Thank you

Comments are closed.


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