What started as a war of words on Twitter has turned into a love fest between Donald Trump and Florida Power & Light.
After calling it “one of the worst utility companies in the country” in an Oct. 8 tweet to more than 2 million followers, Trump now has nothing but praise for FPL.
The company is set to wrap up a project that addresses Trump’s concerns over utility poles outside his Doral hotel and golf course this weekend, just in time for the start of the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship at the resort.
“I’m so proud of them; they have been so professional,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday. “I can’t speak more highly of them.”
The businessman and reality TV personality took to Twitter last year to complain about “disgusting rotting utility poles” outside the Trump National Doral Miami, 4400 NW 87th Ave., which is undergoing a $250 million renovation.
On Oct. 9, a day after Trump blasted the company, the official @insideFPL account tweeted: “Happy to oblige, but we’re sure Mr. Trump wouldn’t expect a handout at the expense of FPL customers.”
After the social media spat, which Trump referred to Tuesday as “the little dispute,” FPL president Eric Silagy and the real estate magnate moved the conversation to a more private medium: the phone. The two parties, as well as other companies whose lines needed to be moved underground, eventually worked out arrangements that cost Trump “a substantial amount of money,” the billionaire said Tuesday.
The work, which has been under way for a few months, involved burying electric and telecommunications equipment belonging to FPL, FPL FiberNet, Comcast and two other companies that had equipment on 10 concrete utility poles so those poles could be removed. Trump had to cover the cost of moving equipment underground for each company.
Construction around the intersection of Northwest 87th Avenue and Northwest 36th Street started in November after agreements were finalized and the necessary engineering work was completed, according to FPL spokesman Greg Brostowicz. All the FPL and FPL FiberNet equipment has since been moved underground. The other companies are removing their equipment this week; once that’s finished, FPL will remove the poles this weekend. The golf tournament begins March 6.
“It’s not coincidental,” Brostowicz said. “It’s something we worked on with Mr. Trump’s representatives. When this project was discussed and the timeline was put forth, that was something that was very important.”
No one involved would disclose the cost of the project, though last year Trump said FPL had quoted a figure of nearly $300,000.
Brostowicz said that any customer who requests a project that is “not operationally necessary” must pay for the work. He said the costs to bury the FPL equipment “will be partially offset by a credit that is available to any customer or municipality that opts to take such action.”
Trump’s celebrity status (and his major Twitter platform) did not play a role in FPL’s decision to move forward with the project, Brostowicz said.
“We treat all of our customers the same, and I can honestly say that Mr. Trump has been treated like any other FPL customer with no preferential treatment whatsoever,” he said.
For his part, Trump has described the project as a victory for both sides and “a positive story.”
“We’ve come a long way together,” he said Tuesday.