First, the good news.
In the past four days, Duke Energy has restored power more to than 1.2 million customers in Florida impacted by Hurricane Irma.
Wait, there’s more good news.
Ninety-six percent of customers in Pinellas and Pasco have had their power restored.
Now, the bad news.
Ninety-six percent restored — an ‘A’ grade if there ever was one — is being met with derision by the local media and on social media because the company promised it would have power restored in the western portion of its service area by midnight Friday. Even when that guarantee looked like it could not be kept, Duke representatives believed they could reach their goal.
But when the clock struck midnight, tens of thousands of Duke customers in Pinellas and Pasco were still without power. By early Saturday morning, the number stood at 21,649 customers.
Restoring power to all but four percent of the western service area is a Herculean accomplishment. But that doesn’t matter to those still left without the lights on.
Duke says it expects to finish the job in Pinellas by the end of the day Saturday. The company says it still has work to do in some of the areas hit hardest by the hurricane, including Port Richey and Holiday in Pasco County and Venetian Isles, Snell Isle, Jungle Prada, Treasure Island, Pasadena, Lake Seminole, Disston area, Bardmoor, North Clearwater Beach and Belleair in Pinellas County.
“We are in the home stretch of restoring all our customers,” said Harry Sideris, Duke Energy Florida president. “Given the scale and scope of the extensive repairs, we need just a little more time in some areas to finish the job. We are so grateful for our customers’ patience and perseverance as we work through this historic restoration.”
As for the rest of Duke’s customers, there is no change at this time to most central and northern portions of the service area: it remains at end of day Sunday for Alachua, Bay, Brevard, Citrus, Columbia, Dixie, Flagler, Franklin, Gilchrist, Gulf, Hamilton, Hernando, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lake, Leon, Levy, Madison, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Seminole, Sumter, Suwannee, Taylor, Volusia, and Wakulla counties.
Duke says it hopes to have the power on by the end of the day Tuesday for the severely impacted areas of Hardee and Highlands counties, and the cities of Apopka and DeLand.