PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A big change by a big power company will mean thousands of people living in Tampa Bay area mobile home communities can breath a collective sigh of relief.
Duke Energy claims it is stepping up. From now on, it will pay to install, operate and maintain electrical lines than run from its electric poles to meter pedestals that sit outside most homes.
The change follows a series of Target 8 Investigative reports that raised questions about Duke’s policy that required mobile home communities to prove the power company was responsible for old deteriorating cables.
Duke Energy left power lines lying for months on a sidewalk in Sunny Acres Mobile Home park in Pinellas County. Duke wanted proof that underground lines that shorted out were its responsibility.
Until then, the power company said burying the cables it left on on the sidewalk were not its problem. It was up to the park to pay to bury them.
“It’s dangerous, it’s dangerous,” home owner Francis Dorsey complained.
Then, we learned that Duke claimed a problem with the power line beneath South Gate Mobile Home Park in Clearwater wasn’t its responsibility either.
“They’ll do anything not to pay, that’s the attitude that they have,” said home owners’ association president Ken Wade.
“After the first report, Duke power was there the next morning with two representatives, ” said South Gate’s attorney Jonathan Damonte.
Again, following Target 8 ‘s report, Duke fixed the problem.
Then it wanted nothing to do with a shorted underground cable at Doral Village, also in Clearwater.
“It was my assumption that all the underground wire would’ve been the power company’s responsibility,” explained Doral Village manager Kelly Kerr.
“After the second report, they were at Doral with two representatives. So absolutely, got instant results, it was amazing,” Damonte added.
Following Target 8’s reports, Duke did a total about-face. It is now handing out a sheet to mobile home communities. Among the items on the sheet is a statement of responsibility.
“Duke Energy is responsible for the installation, operation and maintenance of the electrical infrastructure from the electric utility pole to the service meter pedestal” the sheet states.
“You convinced them,” said attorney Damonte.
According to Damonte, Duke’s turn-about will save tens of thousands of mobile home residents thousands of dollars a piece when old underground cables go bad.
According to Duke Energy senior communications consultant Ana Gibbs, Duke plans to meet further with Doral mobile home park. It also hopes to meet with additional parks in the near future.
“Duke Energy is committed to responding to customers’ concerns. We identified the need to provide more clear and specific guidelines regarding the ownership and maintenance of the secondary electrical infrastructure within mobile home parks, therefore, we met with representatives from Sunny Acres, South Gate and Doral mobile home park. Our goal is to ensure customers understand the ownership of electrical infrastructure within each location,” said a statement from Gibbs.
“Makes me feel a lot better, makes my clients feel even better than that. Once again, you’ve proved the power of investigative journalism and we thank you very much, ” said Damonte.
Ken Wade was also appreciative.
“I think it worked out really fantastic. I never expected it to work out the way it did and it really worked out fine,” he said.
If you have something that you think should be investigated, contact our Target 8 Helpline at 1 800 338-0808 or reach out to Steve Andrews at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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