Target 8: Standoff between Duke, Pinellas homeowners leaves high voltage cable exposed

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A stalemate continues between Duke Energy and homeowners, over who owns a high voltage underground cable that sits on top of the ground at a Pinellas County mobile home park.

Duke won’t pay to bury the lines, because there is a dispute about who owns what.dukeenergy2

In the meantime, following a Target 8 report about the lines laying exposed on the ground for months, Duke wrapped some yellow “CAUTION” tape around some wooden stakes, then strung it the length of one cable.

“Well, that’s just a few more things to trip over if anybody’s out at night and forgets that they’re there,” homeowner Frances Dorsey said.

Duke also put up some cones and tried to hide another high voltage cable that snaked along the back sidewalk of the park.

Rains from Hurricane Hermine shorted the park’s underground cable in September.

Duke claims, as a courtesy, it provided new cables to supply the park power.

It won’t bury them, because it insists it did not install the original cable and that Sunny Acres owns the “underground wires providing power to the mobile homes.”

Electrical contractor Charlie Spitzer disagrees.

He examined the wiring for Target 8 and contends only a power company could install that type of wire.

“The wire is not the right size for 32 mobile homes and a pump service.  They couldn’t have been installed by an electrical contractor,” Spitzer said.

Electrical consultant Mike Handley concurs.

“It could not have been installed by an electrical contractor,” Handley stated.

According to Handley, only power companies use that type of wiring.  Duke claims it doesn’t use that type in question either.

Target 8 contacted Florida’s Public Service Commission about the standoff.

At first, the PSC said it was Duke’s responsibility to bury the cable.

A little later, they sent Target 8 the exact same statement Duke provided us hours earlier.

“Then you know they got it from the utility and they didn’t question it, they just submitted it,” Handley explained.

News Channel 8 has requested from the PSC all communication between its staff and Duke Energy regarding the Sunny Acres issue.  The PSC has yet to provide any public records.

What is clear is the danger the exposed cables pose.

“Oh, that could be very very hazardous, extremely hazardous,” Handley added.

According to Duke, Sunny Acres is not the first mobile home park that claimed the underground cable belonged to the power company.  Duke states it has not replaced any, nor will it.

Contractors estimate burying the cable at Sunny Acres could fall anywhere between $7,000 to $14,000 dollars, because there are so many buried utilities in the area.

If you have a problem that you think should be investigated call our Target 8 Helpline at 1-800-338-0808

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