Smart meters could slow power restoration in Lakeland

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If you have your electricity back, consider yourself lucky.

More than a week after Hurricane Irma blew across central Florida, hundreds of families are still without power in the Lakeland area.

"We are not going to forget anyone," said Lakeland Electric spokeswoman Cindy Clemmons. "We are not done until every person is back in power from Irma."

On Thursday, at least 300 homes were still without electricity.

It is impossible to know an exact number because up to 500 of the so-called smart meters that were installed a few years ago are apparently malfunctioning.

Clemmons says some of the smart meters are indicating that homes have power when they actually don't.

There are several other reasons people may still not have power.

Electric companies fix lines that go to the greatest number of homes first. So people in isolated or rural areas may have to wait longer for service.

If something is damaged like the line that goes from your house to the meter, that may create a delay, as well. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to have the damage fixed before Lakeland Electric will step in.

Right now, electricians are extremely busy because the storm caused so much damage, so if you need one to make a service call, it would be a while before they’re available.

Clemmons says everyone who is still without power should call Lakeland Electric, (863) 834-4248, even if they have reported the problem before.