Lakeland is fortunate to own its own power generation utility. Lakeland Electric provides jobs and creates revenue that funds may of the great programs our city provides. We must look for ways to both improve our power infrastructure and lower energy costs for businesses and citizens in Lakeland. This is no small task but I believe it is possible through technology. Lakeland Electric has already embraced solar energy and we must continue to implement cost effective ways to reduce costs and protect our environment.
Over the years, there have been many arguments made in favor of selling our power utility to a larger conglomerate. While these arguments all make some legitimate points, we must look at the bigger picture. The recent damage to electrical utilities throughout the state in the wake of Hurricane Irma highlighted a key point that is often overlooked. While there is no denying the commitment of electrical workers throughout the state, the response to wide spread outages by Lakeland Electric was significantly better than in other parts of the state, some of which sustained less damage than Lakeland. Having spoken with people throughout the state, there was a significant difference between the communication and responsiveness of larger power companies, some of whom are located in other states, as compared to the level of service experienced by Lakeland Electric customers. I believe this is because the men and women of Lakeland Electric live and work in or around our city. This direct connection to our community provides a level of accountability and control that are not enjoyed by many other cities throughout Florida. Situations like those we just endured reinforce the significant value that local connection brings and for how important these services are in our daily lives.
In addition to electric and other utilities, I believe Lakeland should look for additional ways to serve its citizens. One such way is through the utilization of a high speed internet infrastructure already in place. Groups like Gigabit Lakeland have been leading the charge to harness the benefits of this system. I believe there are a multitude of advantages to offering businesses and residents a high speed internet alternative and as land based telephones and cable television services continue to lose ground in favor of newer alternatives. The time to explore such opportunities has never been better and I want Lakeland to be at the forefront of technological innovation. I am committed to exploring options such as Gigabit Lakeland in an effort to make Lakeland a better place to live and a more attractive place to do business.
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