Florida Power & Light Co. yesterday announced that it is closely monitoring the path of Hurricane Irma and preparing to respond safely and as quickly as possible should the storm impact its service area.
"Despite the fact that last year, FPL customers in Central and North Florida were significantly impacted by Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew, we estimate that approximately half of the nearly 10 million people we serve, particularly in the tri-county area, have yet to experience a hurricane, much less a major one, since 2005," said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. "Hurricane Irma is a very powerful, dangerous and unpredictable Category 5 storm that has the very real potential to impact Florida, and we are taking every possible action to ensure we are ready to respond. This includes preparing to move our workers and equipment to the areas most likely to be affected. With that in mind, we appreciate Gov. Rick Scott's forward-leaning decision to declare a state of emergency, which well-positions FPL as we execute our pre-storm efforts."
While there is much uncertainty regarding the exact path of the storm, the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center indicates there is a significant chance that Irma could impact or make landfall in FPL's service area.
FPL urges its customers to take the time now to prepare for potentially prolonged power outages. Additionally, given the nature of the approaching storm and expected vegetation-related impacts on FPL equipment, some customers may experience more than one outage throughout the duration of the storm.
"Every storm is different; however, the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey serves as a vivid and painful reminder of Mother Nature's fury," said Silagy. "While we hope for the best, we owe it to our customers to prepare for the worst. We urge all of our customers to review their family and business emergency plans, heed warnings and evacuation orders by state, county and local officials, ensure they have supplies on hand and keep a close watch on the development and track of the storm."
Preparation and safety tips are available at FPL.com/storm. In addition, customers can download the new FPL Mobile App for on-the-go, instant and secure access to their accounts. Customers can report or get the latest information on an outage. The app is available for download in the iOS App Store and Google Play.
FPL's grid investments
Since 2006, FPL has invested nearly $3 billion to build a stronger, smarter and more storm-resilient energy grid to help us restore power faster following outages. By the end of 2017, FPL's enhancements to the energy grid will include:
- Strengthening nearly 860 main power lines, serving critical community facilities and services, such as police and fire stations, hospitals, 911 centers, grocery stores and gas stations;
- Placing more than 450 main power lines underground (60 of which were completed after 2006);
- Clearing vegetation – a major cause of power outages – from more than 150,000 miles of power lines;
- Inspecting the company's 1.2 million power poles every eight years, and upgrading or replacing those that no longer meet FPL's standards for strength (approximately 150,000 poles inspected annually); and
- Installing more than 4.9 million smart meters and 83,000 intelligent devices to help predict, reduce and prevent power outages, and restore power faster if outages occur.
The system improvements mean fewer power outages, faster service restoration following storms and more reliable service for our customers every day. Over the last five years, FPL has improved service reliability by 25 percent. During Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew last year, our smart grid automated switches helped prevent nearly 150,000 customer interruptions. In addition, our strengthened main power lines resulted in 30 percent fewer power interruptions during a storm than standard power lines, and none of our strengthened poles failed during the 2016 hurricane season. That said, each storm is unique, as is the region impacted, which can affect restoration efforts.
How FPL prepares for storm season
Prior to storm season, FPL conducts extensive training to prepare employees to respond safely and as quickly as possible if a storm threatens our service territory.
FPL secures agreements for assistance from out-of-state utilities and electrical contracting companies in the event that additional restoration workers are needed. It also orders backup supplies and equipment, and plans staging sites throughout the 35-county service area.
The utility works closely with local emergency officials to update lists of facilities that are critical to the community, such as hospitals, police and fire stations, communication facilities, water treatment plants and transportation providers.
FPL also prepares and strengthen our infrastructure throughout the year by:
- Clearing tree limbs and branches from power lines.
- Inspecting poles for strength.
- Upgrading poles from wood to concrete or steel.
- Inspecting power lines and equipment with infrared technology to detect issues the naked eye can't see, and making any needed repairs.