Street Lights
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We all know what power meters are.  Our homes and businesses all have them.  From what they display, our power bills are calculated.  But some users of power don't have meters.  Why?  The power companies have decided that paying a flat rate per month is cheaper than sending a meter reader every month.   In theory, this is a good plan.  A 1000 watt light will use 1000 watts a certain number of hours a year.   Between the changes in sunset and sunrise, it's fairly easy to come up with a close estimate of hours that photocell will be on per year.  Multiply the hours by the wattage of the bulb and you have a fair number of kilo Watt Hours, kWh, to charge the customer for.

The problem is that there's nothing to credit the customer (in this case, us, the tax payer) for lights that are burnt out, missing or otherwise out of service.  

Problem 1

The tall light towers in the NE corner of SR 826 and I-75 have been off for many years.  I've complained about them to Florida DOT and basically got a 'yeah we know, but we don't want to fix the wiring'.   Has anyone modified the amount FPL bills the state for these lights?

Problem 2

Along major roads, there's usually one photocell for a few blocks of lights.  One blown fuse means tens of thousands of watts not being used that night.   Is there a method to credit us when one of these circuits is found to be off?   Does anyone bother?   At what point will it be more accurate to put a meter on these types of circuits?  We're talking about more power than some small businesses use, so it would make sense to be accurate about it.  

How do you know they're this type of circuit?  You'll see a few blocks of lights go on and off at exactly the same time every day.  Usually the wiring between the poles is underground. 

How much money are we talking about?

Say there's 30 aluminum light poles on one photocell.   Lets say they're 400 watt High Pressure Sodium lights (those are the yellow color lights).  30 lights x 400 watts = 12kW.   If they run tonight from about 7PM until about 6 AM, that's 11 hours.   11 hours x 12 kW.  That's 132 kWh TONIGHT.  I'm willing to make a bet that's more power than your house will use this MONTH.   If no one does anything, we taxpayers will pay to light that street tonight, but it won't cost FPL a cent to keep the street dark.   Who wins here?

Problem 3

For individual street lights, on public property, FPL is also responsible for the light's repair.   So in theory, a light could be installed, burn out 2 years later, and spend the next few years as a burden on the taxpayer.  There doesn't appear to be a program in place to check the lights they bill us for.  I'm not saying FPL is intentionally not fixing them, I'm just saying that there doesn't appear to be an outside agency to check that lights are maintained.

This isn't a fix, but it helps.  If you see a street light that's not working, call it in.   You're making a street or sidewalk safer and making sure we get our money's worth out of the streetlight.  Look at it this way, you're paying for it, why not make sure it's working?

I wish I could give you an exact web link, but FPL makes that impossible.  Go to this page:

And scroll down to "Problems with your power"  and click on "Report a street light that's not working".  You'll fill out 3 web pages of forms, but they do fix them.

You could also call 305 442 8770, then 1, 1, 3.

Problem 4

Almost the same problem as above but in reverse.  Some photocells fail in the 'on' mode.  This means the light wastes our power all day long.  If you see one of these, please report it also.  In this case, it's not us taxpayers that lose money, it's us rate payers that are paying higher power bills to compensate for these un-metered lights that waste power.

Use the same resources above to report a 'day burner' to FPL. 


Except for portions owned by others, Copyright: Ray Vaughan, 2008