Florida Power & Light Co. yesterday broke ground on its new state-of-the-art distribution control center in West Palm Beach, designed to ensure greater everyday reliability and more efficient communication, collaboration and response during emergency restoration events. The category 5-rated facility is an expansion of FPL's command center and will consolidate the company's two existing control center facilities in Miami and Sarasota.
"Since Hurricane Andrew, 25 years ago this year, and the historic hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005, FPL has invested billions of dollars to make our system stronger, smarter and more storm-resilient," said Eric Silagy, president and CEO for FPL. "Most recently, these investments provided benefits for our customers during Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew, with fewer outages and faster restoration times. And, we continue to improve our storm response capabilities, now with the construction of a hardened distribution control center that will position us to get the lights on faster for our customers."
FPL's facilities hardening project is the largest in the company's history and includes the building of a new FPL distribution control center and hardening of 12 service centers located across the state to improve restoration time for customers. The hardened facilities will help offer everyday reliability and allow strategic pre-staging of more than 1,000 personnel to ensure FPL responds to its customers safely and quickly following storms. FPL's newly constructed Category 5-rated distribution control center, which will be a consolidation of the company's existing Southeast and Northwest control centers located in Miami and Sarasota, respectively, will leverage advanced technologies to provide the company with better collaboration during emergency restoration events.
"We train year-round to handle extreme weather events and continuously look for ways to improve our storm response," said Manny Miranda, senior vice president of Power Delivery for FPL. "The new distribution control center and hardened service center facilities will further strengthen our storm response capabilities, ensuring better collaboration during emergency events and allowing crews to quickly get to the hardest hit neighborhoods to restore service."
FPL's more than $2 billion in investments over the past decade, including strengthening its electrical system and leveraging smart grid technology, delivered benefits for customers during Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew in the fall of 2016. During Hurricane Hermine in September 2016, FPL crews worked safely and quickly to restore service to 100 percent of its customers impacted by the storm within 24 hours of Hermine's passing, and customers experienced an average outage duration of less than three hours. Investments in smart grid automated switches also helped prevent 25,000 customer interruptions.
By strengthening its electrical system and leveraging smart grid technology during Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, FPL restored 99 percent of customers affected by the end of two full days of restoration following the hurricane's exit from its service area. Smart grid automated switches on FPL's system prevented approximately 118,000 customer interruptions, and hardened distribution main power lines performed 30 percent better than non-hardened main power lines. Furthermore, no FPL transmission poles and hardened main power line poles failed due to high winds.
FPL's leadership in emergency response was recently recognized with the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) "Emergency Recovery" and "Emergency Assistance" awards for its outstanding restoration efforts after Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew, and for assisting neighbor utility Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA) in its recovery efforts after Matthew.