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Longboat Key Wednesday, Jun. 9, 2010 7 years ago

Trees root of north-end power problem

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

This time, it can’t be blamed on storms.

Longboat Key’s ever-growing foliage has been responsible for a barrage of power outages on the north end of Longboat Key for the last few years.

At the May 20 Longboat Key Town Commission regular workshop, Commissioner Robert Siekmann expressed frustration with a number of power outages happening from the 5800 block of Longboat Key north to Longbeach Village.

“It’s an intermittent problem that’s been ongoing for years,” said Siekmann, who says the shortages are short and frequent. “Sometimes they are one right after the other.”

Most of the time, the outages occur in areas of the Village neighborhood.

Jackie Anderson, spokeswoman for Florida Power & Light (FPL), told The Longboat Observer that large bushes, palm trees and trees are responsible for the frequent power outages.

According to Longboat Key Police Department incident reports, this year at least seven fires were ignited by vegetation touching power lines, which caused power outages.

Most recently on May 13, palm fronds touching electrical wires in the 6800 block of Longboat Drive South sparked a small fire in some bushes and a power outage.

The outages have been frequent enough, Anderson said, that FPL has sent crews out this month to clear vegetation from the power lines.

“It’s one of the most common causes of outages,” Anderson said.

“But it’s happening frequently enough in the area to cause concern.”

Anderson said FPL will be working until June 30 to trim back trees, shrubs and palms from power lines from a 5.5-mile stretch that begins on the north end of the island.

The Asplundh Tree Expert Co., as part of FPL’s preventative-maintenance, line-clearing program, is responsible for the line-clearing services residents will see in their neighborhoods this summer.

“We are accelerating trimming in the area to address the residents’ concerns,” Anderson said. “It’s unusual enough for us to take notice.”

Siekmann reports he hasn’t had any outages in his Land’s End townhome in a couple of weeks.

“Let’s hope they have fixed the issue,” Siekmann said.

Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].

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