Florida Power & Light Co. has announced that with the approach of Hurricane Matthew, the company continues to make final preparations to restore service safely and as quickly as possible after what is forecast to be a very dangerous and damaging storm. FPL urges its customers to take the time now to prepare for potential power outages with an emphasis along Florida's east coast, though feeder bands can be expected to extend several hundred miles from the storm's center to the west coast of Florida. 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.
"FPL is taking this storm extremely seriously, and as a result, we are mobilizing and pre-positioning a restoration workforce of more than 6,300 FPL and contractor workers so that we can quickly begin restoring power to our customers as soon as it is safe to do so," said Eric Silagy, president and chief executive officer of FPL. "Now is the time to make individual preparations, particularly those who are dependent upon electricity to power medical equipment. While the exact path remains unclear, we're asking our customers to make safety their highest priority."
The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center, issued as of this morning, indicates that Matthew likely will impact a large portion of FPL's service territory, with the strongest impacts along Florida's east coast. The hurricane's high winds and heavy rain, which could last for up to two days, are expected to damage electric lines and equipment, causing power outages. It is important to note that during that timeframe, restoration efforts may be delayed due to it being unsafe for workers to operate bucket trucks in wind conditions exceeding 35 mph or greater.
"For the better part of the past decade, FPL has invested heavily in developing one of the nation's most advanced smart grids," said Silagy. A key focus of that investment has been to make the electric system stronger by upgrading main power lines that serve critical local facilities and other community needs. This prepares our system to better withstand severe weather, and importantly, enables us to restore power to our customers faster following major storms."
FPL has spent more than one-half billion dollars on vegetation management during the past 10 years. However, the company fully anticipates excess debris, such as trees, branches and palm fronds, to cause power outages, as this will be the first significant clearing in more than a decade due to a lack of major hurricanes.
"We're exercising our storm response plans and moving aggressively to ensure that we are as prepared as possible to restore power to our customers who may be impacted by the approaching storm," Silagy added. "Complementing our efforts are the proactive steps taken by Gov. Rick Scott in already declaring a state of emergency. By the governor taking this action, we are much better positioned to move critical resources into Florida with greater ease in advance of Matthew's potential impact on our state, including out-of-state workers and their equipment."
What we're doing
At FPL we have activated our emergency response plan, which includes:
- Pre-positioning crews and equipment to speed restoration;
- Acquiring additional restoration workers from out-of-state utilities and electrical contracting companies;
- Finalizing logistics for staging sites in the areas most likely to be impacted; and
- Coordinating our response with county emergency operations centers.