homepage logo

Gas leak serves as a reminder to demand better service from utilities

By Staff | Nov 18, 2010

It was nearly one year ago that a massive power failure, caused by a defective insulator, dramatically impacted residents and crippled businesses on both Sanibel and Captiva on the weekend prior to Thanksgiving.

So when last week’s natural gas leak that forced the closure of thousands of restaurants, hotels and resorts across Southwest Florida — from Fort Myers to Naples — did not interrupt service on the islands, the incident did serve as a reminder of how lucky we were.

Lucky not just because, according to the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce, local restaurants and businesses reported unusually high volumes of customers throughout the weekend.

Lucky because, following the Lee County Electric Cooperative (LCEC) blackout which occurred on Nov. 21, 2009, residents and business owners alike demanded that the utility take steps to help prevent future outages.

In the past 12 months, both the City of Sanibel and Captiva Community Panel have stepped up their efforts to work cooperatively with LCEC, developing a workable plan to provide around-the-clock emergency service on the islands. LCEC has responded by instituting a corrective action plan.

In addition, LCEC has installed four video monitoring cameras along the main electric line, accelerated their tree-trimming procedures and improved overall communications with Sanibel, including a direct link posted on the city’s website for residents and business to report outages.

And in the past year, only a single accident — when a boat struck a transmission line crossing San Carlos Bay — has caused any significant power failure on the islands.

We applaud LCEC for continuing to improve the level of service they provide on the islands, and to the community for demanding better. One can only imagine what an extended interruption of utility service might mean to islanders during tourist season.

And we hope that accidents, such as the Nov. 11 natural gas leak, might be greatly avoided in the future by taking a few precautionary measures — like LCEC’s corrective action plan. An ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure.

— Reporter editorial