Progress Energy Florida crews have restored service to the vast majority of customers who lost power as a result of Hurricane Wilma earlier today. As of 9 p.m., 2018 customers were without power, down from a systemwide peak of 52,000 at 1:10 p.m.
In the company's southern service area -- including southern Polk and Highlands counties, which were closer to the storm's track -- restoration is expected to be complete by midday Tuesday.
Progress Energy Florida has begun releasing tree crews to assist Florida Power & Light in its hurricane recovery efforts. Progress Energy expects to send additional line and tree crews to its southern neighbor as Progress Energy's restoration is completed.
Hurricane Wilma made landfall about 6:30 a.m. with 125 mph winds near Cape Romano, 22 miles south of Naples, and moved quickly across the state. Progress Energy Florida's service area extends as far south as Highlands County. Since the storm moved from west to east, it created new outages even as some customers were being restored, so the outage peak occurred at different times in each county.
Progress Energy mobilized more than 700 out-of-state personnel to support Progress Energy Florida crews. That number includes about 100 personnel from the company's sister utility in the Carolinas. In addition to normal restoration activities, crews put special emphasis Monday on restoring service to schools without power; as a result, all schools had power by late afternoon.
The quickest way for Progress Energy Florida customers to report an outage during a storm is to call (800) 228-8485. Customers can also use this number to report downed power lines.
Remaining outages by county
Highlands 1,485 Orange 192 Pinellas 178 Polk 71 Seminole 92 Total 2,018
After severe weather, Progress Energy takes specific steps to restore power. Progress Energy crews first assess damage and determine what crews, equipment and supplies will be needed to make repairs.
The first repair priorities are transmission lines, high-voltage lines that deliver electricity from power plants to substations. Supported by tall metal or wooden structures, these lines cross fields, forests and swamps. Although protected by wide rights of way, the lines can be damaged by high winds or falling branches and trees. Without these lines, power cannot be delivered to customers.
Also vital are substations, which reduce the voltage of electricity so power can be delivered to houses and businesses. From substations, electricity is delivered to communities by feeder and tap lines. Individual customers receive power from service lines that branch off tap or feeder lines. After making their repairs, transmission and substation crews join line & service crews in repairing feeder, tap and service lines. This strategy makes the best use of personnel and equipment.
Once transmission lines and substations can again deliver power, Progress Energy assigns priority to lines that serve hospitals, police departments, emergency services and other facilities that are essential to public health and safety. Other restoration is prioritized by repairs that affect the largest number of customers. For example, a repair serving 200 customers is done before a repair serving five customers. This is the quickest way to restore power to the most customers.