Donald Trump is picking a fight with Florida Power & Light.
“In my opinion, one of the worst utility companies in the country is Florida Power and Light,” Trump wrote on his Twitter account.
Oh, yes. It’s on.
It didn’t take long for Trump to clarify his cryptic slam in a follow-up Tweet.
“Florida Power & Light has disgusting rotting utility poles outside Doral in Miami,” he wrote. “They should put in new ones or be sued.”
Doral would be the Doral golf resort in Miami-Dade that Trump bought last year and is now renovating.
This isn’t the first time that Trump’s real estate acquisitions have resulted in disdain over the parts of Florida he encounters on the fringes of his investment.
His purchase of Mar-a-Lago caused him to ask Palm Beach County to move the airport, because the Palm Beach mansion was in the flight path of Palm Beach International.
That turned into a lawsuit, which was resolved by his construction of the Trump International Golf Course on leased county land in suburban West Palm Beach, which caused him to bemoan the location of the 12-story jail operating north of the course. And to want the power lines in the area buried.
And he also has a history with poles. You might even say, his pole appreciation is second to none in Florida.
That explains why he ignored the Palm Beach zoning codes by putting an 82-foot flagpole on the front lawn of the Mar-a-Lago estate, a pole that was 40 feet more than the town’s height limit for flagpoles.
When the town starting fining him $1,250 a day for his quest to have the biggest pole in Palm Beach, Trump responded by suing the town for $25 million.
Eventually, the town caved, allowing him to keep his enormous pole. (Freudian scholars take note.)
Trump’s new pole issue with FPL seems to be less about size and more about appearance.
And once again, he’s threatening to sue.
It’s hard to pick a side to root for here. It’d be like picking a side in Michele Bachmann v. Comcast.
Plus, I’ve relied on both Trump and FPL.
Trump has provided me a steady stream of column material for nearly 20 years, and FPL has sold me air conditioning.
Without them, I’d be on a constant buffoonery hunt in sweaty clothing.
I worry that if the legal battle escalates it will take Trump away from the time he needs to prepare for his next imaginary presidential campaign.
But even more troubling, it will give FPL another excuse to hit its customers with a rate increase.
It doesn’t take much for FPL to ask for a rate increase.
Ratepayers have been paying an “early cost recovery” to FPL for nuclear power plants that the company isn’t even obligated to operate.
So it’s not hard to imagine that a looming legal battle against Trump could cause the power company to persuade its compliant regulators to establish a “Trump early cost recovery” to offset the legal bills of defending a potential lawsuit over Doral.
Let’s hope a compromise will be struck.
Maybe Trump will sit down with Lew Hay, the chairman of FPL’s parent company, and they can work something out.
After all, Trump is the highest paid TV celebrity in America, and Hay, is the $33-million-a-year highest paid public utility executive in the country.
They ought to be able to make a deal over a few rotten poles.
I’m guessing that if FPL agrees to replace them with some young-wood 82-footers everyone will be happy.