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TECO outage complaints are on the rise this year, the state says; neighbors seeking help

Posted at 4:45 PM, Aug 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-22 06:00:52-04

The state reports outage complaints against TECO are on the rise this year.

The bureau that tracks outage complaints in Florida says they've had more outage complaints against TECO so far this year than in all of 2018.

A spokesperson for the Florida Public Service Commission tells ABC Action News they have had 61 complaints as of August 16 of this year.

In 2018, the commission said they received 43 outage complaints from customers -- however, it is unclear what type of outages they were.

ABC Action News first reported at the beginning of August that neighbors in the K-Bar Ranch communities were calling for quick action from TECO after frequent, and quick power outages.

RELATED: Neighbors calling for quick action from TECO after frequent, quick power outages

Those type of outages are known as momentary outages, that some communities say are happening multiple times in a week, usually with no severe weather in sight.

A spokesperson for TECO says momentary outages can be caused by many things, including weather.

Cherie Jacobs said in an email that so far this year, weather has played a factor.

"We've had an unusually wet summer with an unusual number of lightning strikes."

After our first story, people from neighborhoods all across the area reached out to us about the same problems including Kim Fagan in Riverview.

"As soon as I saw the report, I was like 'that is us'," she said. "This is what is happening to us."

Fagan, as well as some of her nearby neighbors, say they've been dealing with ongoing problem for years.

"There's periods where it will happen multiple times a day, and every day for a week, then there’s times where it will be two weeks before it reoccurs," said Kenneth Webber.

Jacobs tells ABC Action News that up to 10 momentary outages in a year is considered “average.”

Most upset that we talked to was Angela Brighter, who uses a CPAP machine to help her breathe at night.

She said she's experienced the outages while using it.

"I'm laying there, my CPAP is helping me breathe, then all at once I'm smothering because I have no CPAP air," she said.

Brighter said along with being startled, her machine relies on Bluetooth technology -- and every time it goes offline, the machine does not think it is being use.

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Because of this, Brighter said the data that goes offline has turned into fights with her insurance company to continue to pay for the needed device because they think it is not being used.

"Without the electric, I have no air," she said.

Others in the area say they have had momentary outages while working from home, and others say they have lost appliances after the power goes out.

Jacobs said if a customer believes there was a loss of appliances as a result of their equipment, a claim can be filed.

Fagan said she gathered data from all the communities around Summerfield who also say they have had momentary outages.

TECO said by email that some of the communities around Fagan had higher reports of momentary outages but many are on average.

Jacobs continued to say that they have a team of experts addressing the reliability concerns with visual inspections and using infrared technology in the area.

Jacobs said they have both short and long term plans that include replacing failing equipment.

Contractors for TECO were in the Summerfield area of Riverview on Wednesday working on some repairs.

"Equipment that is starting to be problematic, that has the potential to cause future reliability issues is part of a long-term plan," Jacobs added.

She went on to say that they are proactively replacing that equipment in the fourth quarter of this year and into 2020.

Pete Radigan, who lives in K-Bar Ranch tells ABC Action News that TECO has been extremely responsive to their community.

Since our first report, Radigan said they have not had any momentary outages.

The Florida Public Service Commission takes complaints on their website.

For more information, click here.