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August 26th is Florida Lineworker Appreciation Day!

Linemen have been an integral part of building our communities for the last 100 years. Many linemen families have worked in the industry for generations and take great pride in providing services right here in Lakeland. August 26th is Florida Lineworker Appreciation Day. For the month of August, electric utilities across the state will be honoring the men and women who work tirelessly in varying conditions to make sure our lights stay on. When most of the population takes shelter, linemen crews head out to restore power, often leaving behind their families to respond to the needs of the community.

The month of August brings back memories for many of us here in Lakeland as the kickoff to one of the worst hurricane seasons experienced by Polk County. In 2004, Central Florida was bombarded by Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne. It seems fitting that at the height of hurricane season, the State of Florida and Lakeland Electric recognizes those who work relentlessly to restore order after the chaos of the storm has cleared.

Considered a highly dangerous profession, Linemen risk their lives every day to keep communities safe. During storm season, however, the stakes can seem much higher. Utilities, like Lakeland Electric, have a responsibility to restore power to those who provide essential services to the community, such as hospitals, police stations and fire departments. We couldn’t accomplish this task without our Linemen.

Linemen work any hour of the day in hazardous conditions to ensure the community’s electrical power remains dependable and sustainable. Linemen are first responders in the truest sense. Often, other first responders are unable to perform their duties until after linemen have removed any electricity hazard at the scene of an emergency.

As we prepare to celebrate Florida Lineworker Appreciation Day on August 26th, Platform Art, a non-profit creative and cultural organization in Lakeland, will be commissioning a Linemen Public Art Sculpture to be displayed here. In working with the Highline Heroes Foundation, Polk County School Board, the City of Lakeland, and Lakeland Electric on the sculpture, Platform Art will bring recognition to those who have served as linemen in the past and those who are currently serving at Lakeland Electric, preserving history along the way. This sculpture will beautify our city and will be placed and dedicated by June 30, 2018. So, in the meantime, be sure to thank a lineman this month!

Beware of Utility Bill Scam

Don’t become a victim to a multi-state scam that has made its way to Central Florida over the weekend.

The scam uses online blog posts and videos to instruct consumers on how to use an account from either the Federal Reserve or Bureau of Public Debt to cover personal payments for credit cards, car loans, college loans, mortgages and utility bills. No such accounts exist.

Customers are told to make payments using routing numbers 051736158, 051000033, 071000301 or 061000146 combined with their nine-digit Social Security number, making the request an easy target for identify theft.

The payments were returned by the bank for non-sufficient funds, resulting in a non-sufficient funds fee for the customer and the potential for a late fee and service disconnection by the utility for non-payment.


Free Customer Appreciation Game!

July 15th Flying Tigers Game

Come out and enjoy a FREE baseball game! The Flying Tigers and Lakeland Electric are teaming up to create some summer fun! On July 15th bring your Lakeland Electric bill (paper or electronic) for 4 free tickets. If you are not a Lakeland Electric customer or need additional tickets, a donation of food for Volunteers in Service to the Elderly (VISTE) gets you one ticket per food item! The Customer Appreciation Game begins at 6:00p.m. and is against the Palm Beach Cardinals. We cannot wait to see you out at the ball game! 


The 2016 Pole Plant Management Award

 

    When you look at wooden utility poles around your neighborhood, you may notice round, silver tags nailed into them. These tags are a sign of Lakeland Electric’s preventative storm hardening efforts serviced through Osmose, a renowned, U.S. industry leader in pole inspections. Osmose has been in partnership with Lakeland Electric for over 20 years!

    Taking the time to look at every pole may seem time consuming, but it has proven its worth tenfold. According to John McMurray, Assistant General Manager of Delivery, a wooden distribution pole has an average life span of about 40 years. “Extending pole life defers costs which aids in our model for operating more efficiently,” McMurray said. Through this partnership, Lakeland Electric works to keep its rates down, essentially, saving customers money and improving system reliability. Ronnie Thompson, a seasoned Engineering Technician, agreed that putting in the effort up front is highly beneficial. “It makes sense; you feel good if you’ve got a hurricane coming. You know your poles are going to withstand the storm.” 

    In an eight-year rotation, all 60,000 of Lakeland Electric’s wooden distribution poles will go through a series of integrity inspections. The main aspects of the inspection process are done by crews of diggers, inspectors, and treaters. Around the base of each pole, an 18-inch hole is dug to perform a routine check for decay. Once exposed, the pine poles are treated with a paste that extends their working lives up to ten years. Other inspections performed include sound tests and drilling to check for decay that is invisible to the inspector’s eye. Both external shell decay and internal decay can be treated by Osmose. Once inspected, poles are determined “good” or “reject.” Osmose gathers and processes this information and delivers it to Lakeland Electric.  From here, Lakeland Electric Engineers and Engineering Technicians can determine which poles need to be replaced and which poles are reliable enough to continue servicing customers. 

    This year, Osmose awarded Lakeland Electric with the 2016 Pole Plant Management Award in the Municipal Utility category. This award was presented to Lakeland Electric for their low reject rate and routine attention directed to their electric grid. Following the last inspection year, Osmose concluded that Lakeland Electric had a ground line reject rate of just 1.25 percent. This low number of reject poles means Lakeland Electric is using Osmose’s information to save money which benefits the customers. Lakeland Electric is taking all the necessary measures to stay on top of the quality of their infrastructure. It is a great honor to be recognized by Osmose. Morris Willett, Supervisor of Maintenance Services and Engineering, is very proud of this achievement. “We’ve never really won an award like this before,” he said.

    Going forward, Lakeland Electric will continue to work with Osmose. By partnering with Osmose, Lakeland Electric can continue providing affordable, dependable, and sustainable electricity for its customers.