Anthony Lamb Jr., a resident who has lived in The Palms of Archer of Gainesville community for almost three years, recounts multiple times when the power was out for so long he had to throw his spoiled food in the trash.
“The power goes out here more than can be reasonably explained,” Lamb, 58, said. “It’s more than just an inconvenience.”
The Palms of Archer is a mobile home park that is subject to frequent power outages. It’s located on Southwest Archer Road and is home to more than 400 residents, including elderly people and families with small children.
Residents of the park are among the 22,300 Alachua County residents who rely on Clay Electric Cooperative to provide them electricity.
Some residents say they experience outages once every one or two weeks. Several of the community’s residents said their most recent power outage was June 6 while the weather was clear.
Kate Holden, the community’s property manager, thinks the reason why the power goes out so often is because Clay has trouble sending workers to do maintenance.
“Clay isn’t a regular utility company like GRU (Gainesville Regional Utilities), so it seems like they aren’t able to service things as well,” she said.
According to their website, Clay is a co-op and managed differently than GRU, which is a municipal utility company. Co-ops are member-owned and run, unlike municipal utility companies which are owned by the city.
Some outages are short, lasting only 10 to 15 minutes. Others can last more than six hours.
All of the power outages have made life more difficult for the park’s residents, especially the parents who live in the community.
“I have two kids,” said 39-year-old Tamika Hicks, a resident who has lived in the park for 10 years. “If the power’s out they can’t get showers or see too well to get dressed for school.”
Other residents, like 28-year-old Alejandra Martinez, a mother of two small children, have expressed concern over not being able to use the air conditioning in the summer heat.
“It’s always hot,” she said, “so when the power goes out we have no way to cool down.”
Many residents of the community have become frustrated with Clay. On top of the regular outages, both residents and the community’s managers have trouble getting in touch with Clay to report these outages.
“I try to call when my power is out,” Lamb said, “but they never answer.”
When they can get in touch, Clay offers vague explanations about why the power went out.
Lamb says he even tried complaining online, but his complaints never received any response.
Holden and some of the other residents said The Palms lost power for five days after Hurricane Irma. Most places in Gainesville had power back within one or two days. Even when the weather was clear, the community still struggled with outages.
Derick Thomas, Clay Electric’s chief public relations officer, said any number of things could be causing the outages.
“It could be weather, animals, cars or trees falling on power lines,” Thomas said.
The time it takes for the workers to restore power depends on what caused the outage, as well as weather and other conditions, Thomas said.
“We have lots of issues with Clay,” Holden said. “It gets kind of frustrating because we want our residents to be able to have power.”