Florida Power and Light is striking back against the city of Coral Gables, who recently slapped ordinance violations and threatened a lawsuit against the power company for not restoring power fast enough following Hurricane Irma.
Last Friday, Coral Gables city attorneys fired off a letter to FPL, giving the company an ultimatum: Restore the power across the city by Sunday (Sept. 17) or be subject to "a fine of $500 per day consistent with Section 2-203 of the City of Coral Gables Code and fines up to $15,000 consistent with Section 162.09, Florida Statutes."
FPL said in an official statement that "frivolous lawsuits and ludicrous code violations won't pressure them into giving the city preferential treatment."
FPL officials say they warned Coral Gables multiple times about the heavy overgrowth in the community that would affect the lines during a severe storm, but that those warnings were ignored.
You can read the entire response from FPL to Coral Gables, below:
We understand that it’s extremely frustrating for our customers to be without power. That said, frivolous lawsuits and ludicrous code violations that attempt to pressure us into providing preferential treatment for their City will not work. Our focus is on restoring power to all of our customers, and we will not be moved by self-entitled politicians who are looking for someone to blame for the City’s irresponsibly managed tree program. The fact is the city of Coral Gables has for many years resisted FPL’s well-documented efforts to trim trees and harden our electric system. Unfortunately for our customers in that area, they are now paying the price in terms of extended outages due to hundreds of trees that have fallen into our lines.
While we do not have a precise assessment of the number of City-owned trees that may have been improperly located, resulting in unnecessarily extensive damage to electrical equipment and extended outages for Coral Gables residents, there’s no doubt that the City’s extreme approach to trees is the cause of the problem. More importantly, it threatens the safety of the residents of Coral Gables and the lives of the lineworkers who are trying to restore power.
We have restored 97 percent of Miami-Dade, and thousands of crews are working to restore the remaining customers without power. After restoration is complete, FPL would be happy to work with the City constructively and provide them recommendations on how to avoid some of these problems from reoccurring during severe weather in the future. However, it is important to note, that numerous attempts we’ve made in the past to address the impact of the City’s dense, overgrown vegetation and tree canopy has on the reliability of their residents’ electric service has been ignored.