Duke Energy admits mistakes, apologizes for Hurricane Irma outages

Duke, FPL miss deadline to restore power

By Erik von Ancken - Anchor/Reporter

CENTRAL FLORIDA - Last week, both Duke Energy and Florida Power & Light promised repeatedly that most customers would have their electricity restored by Sunday night.

That deadline came and went.

As of Monday afternoon, around 75,000 Central Florida customers still did not have power.

Paul Lamb, a resident at Sandy Shores mobile home park next to Lake Fairview in Orlando, is one of them.

"It's been hot for eight days without power," Lamb said. "We've been waiting on Duke Energy to get here and we haven't seen any sign of hope or any kind of workers maybe but once. Duke, I know you're doing a lot but come over here and help us out, too. We're dying over here. Forgotten is an understatement. I thought we would've had it on the latest Sunday night."

Monday afternoon, Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks apologized for the missed deadline.

"We know customers are uncomfortable and frustrated," Brooks said. "And we apologize this is taking a little longer than any of us would like it to. Certainly part of it is the scale of the damage. This is the largest storm to ever hit the Duke Energy service area. And if you can imagine, one outage that you work for two to three hours and it only restores 30 to 40 customers and multiply that by thousands across the area, you begin to understand the scale of the damage. With that said, there's a lot of things we would like to do better. Our communications, we haven't done the way we would like for our customer experience."

Brooks said Duke has 4,000 line workers in Orange and Seminole counties as of Monday afternoon and continues to bring in more crews.

"We know all the progress we've made doesn't matter if you're the person with your lights still off so all we can say is we're very sorry and we're going to work very hard to get you restored as quickly and safely as possible," Brooks said. "I will say if you haven't seen a truck, it doesn't mean that we're not working on your power. Sometimes we may be several streets away or there may be a substation that we have to restore first in order to then come and restore power in your neighborhood."

Brooks said it was a mistake that some customers received voicemails or were told when they called that their power was on when it really wasn't.

"We had some inaccuracies in how the estimates in the reporting was done, we've worked to address that, but when we get to that less than 1 percent the system will identify that as being fully restored," Brooks said. "In reality we realize there's some pockets of customers that may be restored and we need to make some improvements and look at how that process goes."

"We have heard from some customers that said, 'I got the notification that my power is back on.' That doesn't necessarily mean we don't know that it's on, it just means that based on the line that serves their area, if it came they may have gotten that notification. That can be very confusing, and we need to address and look at more closely," Brooks said.

As News 6 was leaving Sandy Shores, several Duke Energy line workers pulled up and began removing a tree that ripped down a powerline. Power was restored within 45 minutes.

"We definitely thank Channel 6 and Erik von Ancken definitely for getting some results because we hadn't seen any power guys yet, nothing," Lamb said.

Duke's new promised deadlines can be found here.

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