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LCEC addresses power problems on Captiva

By Staff | Oct 20, 2010

At Tuesday’s Captiva Community Panel meeting, Key Account Representative Tricia Dorn of the Lee County Electric Cooperative returned and, as she promised at last month’s meeting, she returned to provide the Panel with information regarding power problems specific to Captiva.

After the Panel sent a Letter to LCEC requesting a representative to address the frequent power outages and reliability on Captiva, LCEC Chief Executive Officer Dennie Hamilton responded in person at the July meeting, and Dorn followed up again in September.

Two major outages in November of 2009 caused many Captivans to be without power for more than 24 hours.

One outage event, which occurred on Nov. 1, 2009, was caused by a sailboat knocking out a transmission line on the Matlacha Bridge. The same thing happened again on March 8 of this year.

Dorn’s colleague, LCEC Director of Government Relations Frank Cain, gave a presentation addressing the Panel’s concerns about reliability on Captiva.

Cain said that LCEC has already put in place a corrective action plan, which includes increasing lineman coverage, installing cameras on transmission lines that cross water, increasing the frequency of tree trimming to keep branches out of lines, conducting a visual inspection of the entire system and improving communications.

LCEC is also in the process of installing additional automated switching and protective devices and evaluating and executing additional alternatives.

Cain also discussed alternative generation resource possibilities for Captiva, which Panel members had mentioned to Dorn in September.

“LCEC is not in the generation business, we don’t want to be in the generation business. It’s a very complicated and risky business to be in and it would not benefit our members,” Cain said.

The four major types of generation are combustion turbine, wind power, solar power and back-up diesel generators, but Cain said that the first three options were not viable for Captiva and that onsite back-up generators are the best solution when the power goes out.

And if you’re curious as to why solar power on a barrier island in the Sunshine State is impractical, Cain said it’s because Captiva probably doesn’t have enough room to accommodate the necessary amount of solar panels.

“It would take about a 1,402,830 square foot area of solar panels to supply the power for Captiva. That’s about 32 acres,” Cain said.

For more information, go to www.LCEC.net.