Katrina was barely a category 1 hurricane when it hit Florida's Southeast coast. Of the approximately 880,000 Florida Power customers in the Fort Lauderdale Florida area, about 550,000 lost power according to local TV newscasts.
Our families and neighbors could have been killed ....not because of the storm, but because of the negligence of Florida Power and Light (FPL).
The following is the story behind this statement.
A downed wire is dangerous enough, but when the lateral has a fuse that doesn't
blow, the combination is deadly. The utility used a fuse with a higher current rating to
handle new customers. This is like putting a penny in an old fuse box when a fuse blows.
The burn marks are from the fallen wire arcing to a metal fence, as it lay on the ground.
This can result in PROLONGED energizing of downed wires.
This pole is located on the Southwest corner of my property.
The bare 15,000 volt wire contacted the neutral while falling, but
because of high current fusing to handle more customers, the fuse did not blow.
THE INSUFFICIENT NEUTRAL OPENED, RESULTING IN 15,000 VOLTS negligently seeking a ground through the CUSTOMER'S fences, homes, phones, and cable TV drops, potentially raising pipes and wiring several thousand volts!
The open wire and the burn mark on the pole is the result of 15,000 volts vaporizing the "neutral" wire on the circuit that feeds several neighborhoods. Since this line was open, the 15,000 volts on the top "hot" wire (lateral) that feeds all these homes, had to find another path to ground. This path was through the customer's homes.
It is obvious that fusing of the lateral and the FPL ground system and wire sizing through this neighborhood was improper and inadequate. The neutral wire should have never blown. FPL saved a buck by not running a sub-feeder to the additional homes. Instead, they over-fused the lateral! Instead of using insulated "tree wire" in this sub-tropical region, FPL saved another buck and used BARE wire on a multi kilovolt line going through trees (see photo below).
According to a BellSouth technician, both Comcast and BellSouth experienced problems in our area, including internet provisioning, which had to be manually reprogrammed. Perhaps these transient-sensitive devices received transients from defective FPL equipment when the neutral opened AND ARCED AROUND THE POLE, CREATING TRANSIENTS AND HIGH RF FIELDS.
If FPL fusing, wire sizing, grounding, and maintenance had been up to NEC Code on this lateral, this situation would virtually never occur.
This is an example of why FPL should be using insulated "tree wire."
Open neutral from sub-feeder.
Lateral to neighborhood with open neutral.
P.S. THERE IS NO VERTICAL GROUND ON THIS POLE.
There would be NO ARC
AND THE NEUTRAL CABLE WOULD STILL BE INTACT,
IF FPL HAD FOLLOWED THE NEC!
But what the heck: We'll just charge our negligence off as "storm damage,"
up the customer's bill, and try to sell him an insurance policy. Why should we spend company money on proper grounding and bonding?
HINT: RT = 1 / ((1 / R1) + (1 / R2) + (1 / R3) + (1/R4) + (1/R5) + (1/R6) + (1/R7)..........)
The result was electrified fences
Even the chain link fence was deformed. The end of the wire is at
the bottom of the fence, just to the left of center.
How does Florida Power and Light Protect its customers? With grounds like these.
On Thursday, August 25, 2005, Tropical storm Katrina was upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane. It was coming ashore about 20 miles to the East. Wind and rain squalls were causing faults on the bare 15,000 volt feeders and laterals by blowing trees that had not been trimmed by the power utility for years. We lost power at 4:30 pm. No fuse was blown on the lateral feeding our transformer from the sub-feeders on the main avenue, about 200 feet away.
The sub-feeders to our area were re-energized on Saturday, August 27, at approximately 3:00 pm. Although the sun was out, brighter flashes appeared through the windows of our house. In looking over the neighborhood, I realized Florida Power and Light negligently subjected our family to electrocution if they had been near or touching our fence, plumbing, or electrical device that was plugged into a wall outlet.
They did manage to fry our well pump!
Tim, a lineman in truck 8858, asked me why I was taking pictures. I told him we had a surge on our neutral, which happened to be common to the pole where the lateral came in contact with the neutral, and the same pole feeding our house. I told him I couldn't believe a neutral had blown. He was not aware that the neutral was open, so I said "follow me," and drove to the pole where the lateral was fed. He assured me that he would have caught it, before he re-energized the line.
A very courteous FPL employee, Mrs. Spence, did return my call and take a claim for my pump.
Hours later a very cocky MARK SHERWOOD called back, stating that this was storm related damage, and that FPL does not cover this sort of thing, and that what I said only reinforces the fact that the high voltage entering my home on the neutral line was storm related.
Sorry, Mark Sherwood. When a utility overfuses a lateral to the point that it vaporizes a neutral, subjecting its customers to lethal voltages, damaging the customer's equipment, all to save money because it doesn't have to run a new sub-feeder, IT IS CALLED NEGLIGENCE!
This page was put up especially for you, Mark Sherwood. Thanks for your cooperation.