Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL) had already restored power to hundreds of thousands of customers as Hurricane Irma continued to move through the state and the company expects additional, lengthy outages as Irma remains a threat to millions of customers throughout Florida.
"Despite Irma's exceedingly high winds, tornadic activity, storm surge and severe flooding, FPL has restored power to hundreds of thousands of customers, due largely to automation along its energy grid," said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. "Due to the fact that Irma has slowed considerably, we're seeing significant damage and severe flooding in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, with Irma's impacts now being felt in Palm Beach County and northern coastal communities. We expect the west coast to be the hardest-hit area, requiring an extensive rebuild of our energy grid. As a result, our west coast customers will likely be without power for a much longer period of time. We urge everyone to continue to stay safe and ask for your patience."
As of Sept 10, Hurricane Irma continued to impact Florida as a powerful Category 3 storm. FPL anticipated that customers would likely experience more than one outage throughout the duration of the storm, particularly as Irma's speed slowed. As of Sunday afternoon, FPL had restored more than 350,000 outages in the midst of Hurricane Irma, primarily as a result of the $3 billion invested over the past decade to make its electric system stronger and smarter.
FPL's restoration workforce was restoring power in between bands of severe weather where conditions permit and it was safe to do so. The utility is poised to begin thorough damage assessments as soon as it is safe to work, and will provide broad estimates of when power will be restored as soon as available.
"We understand how challenging it is to be without power. Just like our customers, we too live here and take this personally, and all of us at FPL are dedicated to getting the lights back on safely and as quickly as possible," added Silagy. "We assembled the largest pre-storm restoration workforce in our nation's history, but this will likely be a recovery effort of historic proportions, extending for weeks. You have my personal commitment that we will continue to work around the clock until every customer's electricity is back on."
FPL will begin restoring power in multiple locations and follow an overall plan that calls for restoring power to the largest number of customers safely and as quickly as possible. FPL doesn't restore power based on when customers report an outage, where customers live or the status of accounts. From FPL:
- We start by repairing any damage to our power plants and the power lines that carry electricity from our plants to the local substations.
- We prioritize restoring power to critical facilities, such as hospitals, police and fire stations, communication facilities, water treatment plants, transportation providers and shelters.
- At the same time, we work to return service to the largest number of customers in the shortest amount of time − including service to major thoroughfares that host supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations and other needed community services.
- From here, we repair the infrastructure serving smaller groups and neighborhoods, converging on the hardest-hit areas until every customer's power is restored.