The Tampa Bay Times looks down its nose at companies that make a profit, stay solvent, and provide reliable service to millions of people. Perhaps because they are not one of those companies, as they haven’t generated much profit, haven’t stayed solvent, and typically don’t provide a reliable product, unless you’re looking for anti-capitalist drivel from the state’s most liberal major-media outlet.
The latest example is Thursday’s story headlined “FL House passes bill to bury power lines.” The headline by itself isn’t bad. But they don’t wait long to start slanting their coverage of the issue. The subheader reads: “It provides an opportunity for investor-owned utilities to build infrastructure and profit from the capital improvements — charges that will show up on customer utility bills.”
The Times probably thinks that such headlines might provoke readers to click the story, which allows them to charge more money to advertisers, and thus – *gasp* – make a a profit.
The real lead here is that Florida lawmakers have greenlighted an ambitious plan to harden Florida’s electrical infrastructure against hurricane damage. Over the past few years, a series of hurricane strikes have decimated the Sunshine State and knocked out power to millions of homes for extended periods of time – first in Tallahassee, the slow recovery of which may have damaged Andrew Gillum‘s failed bid for governor. After that, Hurricane Matthew ripped its way up Florida’s east coast, knocking out power to over one million people, and contributing to the deaths of more than a dozen elderly nursing home residents in Hollywood, Florida. Most recently, Hurricane Michael, which obliterated a 100-mile swath of the Florida Panhandle, uprooting entire forests and knocking out power to more than 1.7 million homes and businesses for an extended period.
Burying power lines to prevent trees and high winds from ripping down electric lines is a good thing. Communities being able to survive severe weather without losing power is a good thing. Nursing homes that can keep their residents from dying due to heat stroke because they have electricity powering their air conditioners after a hurricane passes is a good thing.
But, if you’re a liberal reporter or editor at the Tampa Bay Times, companies that make a profit are a bad thing. And the Times can’t restrain itself from injecting just a little bit of skepticism either:
The bill aims to create more plans to bring power lines underground, an expensive process that may or may not deliver significant improvement in the grid. It provides an opportunity for investor-owned utilities to build infrastructure and profit from the capital improvements — charges that will show up on customer utility bills.
Of course charges show up on customer’s bills. Reliable electricity isn’t free. Neither is sending in armies of cherry-picker trucks, linesmen and electrical grid experts to restore power to storm-stricken communities. Of course burying power lines will be expensive – hundreds of millions of dollars every year. And of course those costs ultimately get passed on to the consumer. A couple of dollars per month, by some estimates. But it will be worth it. Not only will lives be saved, but individuals and households will benefit. The average family of four loses, on average, $250 just in spoiled food in the refrigerator, and that’s if they didn’t buy a generator for $1,000 and pay for the fuel to run it for the duration of the power outage. In some scenarios, the loss of air conditioning and wet conditions after a severe storm often leads to significant mold problems, which can cost thousands more to mitigate. Then there are lost wages from restaurants and other businesses that can’t operate, which disproportionately hit low-income families the hardest.
Despite constant criticism from the left-leaning Tampa Bay Times, Florida’s utility companies continue to provide electricity at rates that are competitive nationally, and lower per kilowatt hour than half the country, despite the fact that Floridians run their air conditioners year-round and the recent spate of storms costing power companies (and customers) millions of dollars.
Read the Times‘ alternate version of reality, here.