Wednesday November 2, 2005

Empowered

[Contributed by Steve Klotz]

My contact Boob from FPL (Florida Plunder and Loot) has been vacationing, so I was put through to Olga Crone, District Senior Apologist, when I called. She was pleased to hear that my power had been restored after only 9 days, well short of the 4 weeks FPL originally projected (read: “threatened”) for my part of the grid.

“Well, that whole projection is a worst-case scenario anyway,” she confessed. “We found out that people react better when we shoot wide of the mark, then reduce it, as opposed to stringing ‘em along saying ‘any day now, any day now.’ And of course, we don’t want to be bothered with nuisance calls from hospitals and senior centers asking when their life-support systems will come back on-line. We have work to do, you know.”

Pretty damn good work, too, Olga—97% of the two most populous counties in the state knocked out by a Category 1 or 2. All but two of your own Broward substations off-line for days, and thousands of poles felled by winds weaker than the 119 mph they’re supposed to withstand. You had more broken poles scattered on the ground than there were after the Battle of Warsaw. Terrific service!

“You can always patronize our competition,” she sneered. “And we’re working on finding out why our substations failed so dramatically. Because these are our own protected facilities, our usual excuses—customer abuse, trees, avian obesity impacting wires, etc.—won’t work this time, obviously. Our current theory is: invasive pythons corrupted the system’s integrity.”

Why not just blame mold? Or FEMA? Or killer rabbits?

“As for the poles, we figure the National Hurricane Center is wrong about wind strength. We sure can’t be wrong. And of course, while we don’t actually have any records for the last 4 years—got ourselves an inspection exemption from the state ha ha!—we strongly suspect Pole Canker.”

Pole Canker! Of course. Infects the cement ones, too.

“It’s just a working theory. But we like it because it exonerates us of all responsibility, and actually sets the stage for passing on additional costs to consumers, preserving corporate profits. So we’re empanelling Pole Canker crews to conduct inspections throughout the area. Any poles discovered with the disease will be removed at once, as will any pole within 1,650 feet of an infected pole, and. . .”

Wait a minute. That would mean shutting down power again, and possibly removing and replacing every pole in both counties.

“Sorry, but our concern is for public safety, as always. What, you suppose, we’re trying to drum up revenue for the state’s lumber industry, negatively impacted by all the storms over the last two years? What’s the alternative?

I dunno Olga. Maybe take gas?

[See all Articles by Steve]

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  1. mkh    Wed Nov 2, 04:03 PM #  

    “Battle of Warsaw” got an honest guffaw out of me, which is probably indicative of my reduced critical faculties from sitting in the dark so damned long.

  2. Otto Moe Beal    Wed Nov 2, 04:36 PM #  

    First FPL said their polls weren’t blown over; they were knocked over by trees and other flying debris. Then, when thousands of counter-examples were provided, they said that poles facing flat, empty fields were subject to stronger winds. When this was exposed as a falsehood by the Weather Service conclusion that winds did not exceed 120 mph except in very isolated (and highly elevated) areas, they simply said the weather service was wrong. No proof, just puff. In my neighborhood alone there are half a dozen downed poles that look like termite hotels. What a crock of shit.

  3. Merkin    Wed Nov 2, 04:39 PM #  

    Let’s see how well YOU stand up to 100 mph winds when YOU get to be 50 years old.

  4. Hugh Bris    Wed Nov 2, 04:54 PM #  

    “Take gas.” Interesting. After 20 years in south Florida, living in houses served by natural gas (I’m still without power, but I have hot water and a functioning stove top), I’ve never had an interruption of service. Gas is piped in underground—what a concept!—from god knows where, and it’s the single most reliable utility I have. Better than cable, phone, water, and of course, electric. FPL – Fucking People and Loving it. For chrissakes, would somebody expose these frauds and get us into the 21st century??

  5. Alesh    Wed Nov 2, 06:13 PM #  

    Bringing all of South Florida powerlines underground is, now famously, a $50 to $85 billion project. Originally, FPL was throwing that out as an outrageous figure that should shut up anyone who thought it was a good idea. Now that many people are saying “OK let’s go!” they’re changing their tune a little bit, but sticking to the figure. I think they want to consider it on a town-by-town basis.

    There was also something about underground wires being vulnerable to water, as with hurricanes that involve significant rainfall?

  6. Kent Standit    Wed Nov 2, 10:10 PM #  

    When my older brother was 4 years old, he stepped into a hole left by FPL where they removed an old pole, planted its replacement a few feet away, and left the unfilled hole behind. He broke his ankle, but that’s not my point. The significance is, that’s the only pole FPL ever replaced in our whole neighborhood, where I still live. My brother is now 54: do the arithmetic and you’ll see that the newest FPL pole in this neighborhood is half a century old.
    I expect that will change in a few weeks if the rat bastards ever get their cracker asses out here and clean up the downed wires and fallen poles that litter the streets like body parts after a Baghdad car bombing.

  7. Luddite    Thu Nov 3, 09:00 AM #  

    You really want your electric back? It ruined Bob Dylan forever.