Five days after a Siesta Key Association Board of Directors member raised the issue during the organization’s January meeting, more than two-dozen burned-out streetlights on the Key had been replaced, a Florida Power & Light media relations representative said.
However, according to the Siesta Key Association, two of those lights remain out.
During his Jan. 5 report to SKA members, Michael Shay said that when he left the organization’s Dec. 1 meeting, he discovered numerous, dark FPL light poles along his route home, from the intersection of Beach Road and Midnight Pass Road, north to the intersection of Midnight Pass Road and Higel Avenue.
Shay added that after making that discovery, he had driven back to check the segment of Midnight Pass Road from the Beach Road intersection to the Village, at the Ocean Boulevard intersection. More lights were out on that stretch.
Altogether, he said, 25 lights were burned out, including four in a row, on the 3.3-mile segment, “which makes for a little dark spot in the area.”
He added that he had no idea how long the lights had been out, because he does not regularly drive or walk along those road segments before dawn or after dusk.
When he investigated the situation, Shay said, he learned “it is up to citizens to report (streetlight outages). FPL does not have people going around, looking for light bulbs that are out.”
Shay added, “I’m trying to get FPL to address (the situation). They do have their own process (for reporting).”
Residents are expected to call the power company or fill out a form online if they see streetlights that are out. However, FPL asks for a pole ID number or location for each report, Shay said.
SKA board member Bob Waechter thanked Shay for the information, pointing out that he walks early in the morning on the south end of the Key and had noticed lights out, but he had not known how best to proceed in getting them back on.
Because the Siesta Key Village Maintenance Corp. is responsible for the decorative, exterior lighting along Ocean Boulevard, Shay knew to make a note of it whenever he saw one of those lights out; then, he contacted an SKVMC representative.
Regarding the FPL lights, he said, “Phoning in one light is painless; 25 of them has not been an easy project.”
Shay asked whether Sarasota County Commissioner Nora Patterson, who was in the audience, could offer any suggestions.
Patterson told Shay he should contact Rae Dowling, FPL’s area manager for exterior affairs, who has an office in Sarasota. Patterson added that she could not imagine FPL would require a member of the public to provide the ID number for each pole in a situation where so many were dark.
The Pelican Press late last week was unable to reach Dowling. However, Neil Nissan, an FPL media relations representative, investigated the matter and found a Jan. 6 email from Shay about the Siesta situation. The follow-up notation, Nissan said, was that the light bulbs had been replaced as of Jan. 10.
“All 25 lights should be on,” Nissan said.
Tuesday, SKA President Catherine Luckner told the Pelican Press Shay was planning to contact Dowling again about the poles that still were dark; he was going to check their ID numbers.
Shay told SKA members Jan. 5 he planned to make sure the organization posted information on its website, www.siestakeyassociation.com, to help residents pursue future cases of burned-out FPL streetlights.
Shay told Luckner this week in an email that the easiest way for residents to report burned-out light bulbs on FPL poles is to call FPL at 917-0708 and follow the prompts. Eventually, Shay said, “You will be directed to a live person, who will take the info.”
A caller either will have to have the pole ID number, he said, or the address or cross street where the pole is located. He added that callers are provided a confirmation and a work order number for future reference.
County pays the power bills
During the Jan. 5 Siesta Key Association meeting, board member Michael Shay asked Sarasota County Commissioner Nora Patterson whether the county pays the electric bill for Florida Power & Light streetlights on the Key. Patterson said she believed that was a county responsibility.
“So maybe it’s good if the lights are out,” Shay said, sparking laughter among audience members.
Shay’s question followed discussion of his finding 25 streetlights burned out along Beach Road and Midnight Pass Road.
The county probably pays a flat fee for that electricity, SKA board member Bob Waechter said, regardless of how many bulbs are burning.
Shay then told Patterson, “So, you guys are getting ripped off. We, as taxpayers, are getting ripped off.”
“We worked really hard, and other commissions well before us worked really hard to get main roads like that lit,” Patterson said. “So we don’t want the lights out.”
“It’s a safety issue,” Shay said.