Central Florida Duke Energy customers cope with outages during cold snap

By Julie Gargotta, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, January 03, 2018, 6:34 PM EST

For some Duke Energy customers, it was lights out Wednesday as the company dealt with continuous scattered outages.

“We are working as quickly and as safely as possible to restore power to our customers," said Peveeta Persaud, a spokesperson for the company, in a phone interview.

At one point, thousands were without power across Central Florida, from neighbors to convenience and drug stores. The area of Bear Lake in Orange County saw about 2,000 customers affected. In the Lockhart area, there were another 500.

Duke said the “rare wintry weather” is to blame for the outages, noting that trees, wind and low temperatures pose problems and put "higher stress on mechanical equipment used to generate and deliver electricity."

Crews worked feverishly throughout the day. As they moved, this map updated customers with outage information.

Yet some residents said they weren't satisfied with the response. They were frustrated after the widespread outages following Hurricane Irma.

“I really think they need to work on infrastructure, so every time the breeze blows, we don’t have an outage," said Cheri Lippai, who lives in the Lockhart area of Orlando.

Wednesday's outage comes on the heels of some public relations recovery for the company. After Hurricane Irma tore through, Duke faced widespread outages across Central Florida.

They deployed crews, though with damage to infrastructure, some customers went days or weeks without power.

Lippai was one of them.

“Nine days, no power. It was sweaty, miserable, mosquitoes," she said.

With frigid temperatures, Wednesday's weather was different, though Lippai saw the same outcome: No power.

“I don’t think Duke Energy does a good job, no. And they want to keep raising our rates," she said.

Last week, Duke filed a petition with the Florida Public Service Commission for a surcharge, to recoup over $500 million in recovery costs and replenish storm reserves.

“I kind of expected they had time and money to fix some of these things, so this wouldn’t happen again. But here we are, in the dark," Lippai said.