Florida Power & Light Co., Juno Beach, FL, surpassed a major milestone on June 27 in its efforts to prepare for severe storms and ensure reliable service year-round throughout its 35-county service territory. In Ft. Myers, FPL inspected the one-millionth distribution pole as part of its comprehensive program to inspect 1.1 million poles every eight years.
"Strong utility poles are the backbone of our system to provide reliable service to customers," said FPL Vice President for Power Delivery Manny Miranda. "While no utility is storm proof, ensuring that our poles have the durability to hold up to Florida's harsh weather and environment is a crucial part of our storm preparedness efforts."
Since 2006, FPL has inspected more than 130,000 poles each year -- approximately 500 every business day -- to make sure they meet National Electrical Safety Code standards for strength. When laid end to end, that's the equivalence of a line stretching from Miami to Washington, D.C. As a result of the inspections performed over eight years, FPL has replaced more than 50,000 poles and made approximately 30,000 stronger by adding steel reinforcements or guy wires.
Pole inspections consist of visual and other stringent testing measures – above and below ground level – to ensure poles meet required strength and loading standards. This includes evaluations of pole conditions and weathering, and calculations to ensure that the most-suitable poles are being used to support electric equipment.
Accelerating System Improvements
In addition to its pole inspection program, FPL on May 1 filed a three-year plan (2013 - 2015) with the Florida Public Service Commission to significantly accelerate extensive work to strengthen its electric system against severe winds associated with hurricanes and other major storms.
The company expects to invest approximately half a billion dollars over the next three years to improve the overall resiliency of the electric system for customers. Florida's 2012 storm season demonstrated how power lines and equipment that FPL has strengthened perform better to prevent some storm-related outages, speed restoration times following severe weather and deliver better overall reliability.
The accelerated improvements build upon the program FPL has been executing since 2007. Through 2012, FPL invested nearly $460 million to strengthen the backbone of its power-delivery system and upgrade the lines and equipment serving local facilities that are critical to communities such as hospitals, police and fire stations, 911 facilities and water-treatment plants as well as grocery stores, gas stations and pharmacies.