Florida Power & Light Co. has announced that its ongoing efforts to improve service reliability continued to pay dividends for its customers in 2016, based on performance data filed with the Florida Public Service Commission.
The company achieved its best-ever reliability performance, which included fewer and shorter interruptions of service, and reducing the number of momentaries or flickers experienced by its 4.9 million customers. FPL was named the winner of the 2016 ReliabilityOne™ National Reliability Excellence Award for the second year in a row by PA Consulting Group, demonstrating its continued efforts to improve reliability.
Investments the company made, which includes strengthening power lines and installing smart grid technology, helped make the grid more storm-resilient and speed restoration efforts during last year's storm season. These and other investments delivered benefits for customers during Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew, including the prevention of 148,000 customer interruptions of service.
"We continue to build a stronger and smarter electric grid to provide our customers with reliable service year-round, while keeping our typical residential bills the lowest in Florida and well below the national average," said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. "Our ongoing investments in strengthening the electric grid and utilizing advanced smart grid technology help us deliver electricity our customers can count on in good weather and bad. This was never more evident than during last year's hurricane season and this year's severe weather that hit parts of our service area in January and March."
Since 2006, FPL has invested more than $2.7 billion to strengthen its electric system, including hardening more than 700 main power lines serving critical community facilities and services, such as police and fire stations, hospitals, 911 centers, grocery stores and gas stations. By year-end 2017, the company expects to have completed the following in the 35 counties it serves:
- Strengthen every main power line serving critical community facilities;
- Strengthen every main power line serving other services necessary for communities to recover after a storm, including grocery stores, gas stations and pharmacies; and
- Strengthen at least one main power line from the company's more than 600 substations.
Other investments made by the company include:
- 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 66,000 intelligent devices to help predict, reduce and prevent power outages, and restore power faster if outages occur.
Grid Investments Benefit Customers During Storm
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 impacted customers experienced an average outage duration of less than three hours. Investments in smart grid automated switches also helped prevent 30,000 customer interruptions.
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 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.
"Earlier this year, EEI presented FPL with an EEI Emergency Response Award. During last year's storm season, the hard work of FPL's crews to quickly and safely restore service to customers served as a terrific example of the company's strong commitment to customer service," said Tom Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute. "FPL's investments to harden the energy grid and to install smart grid technology deliver great value and reliability to its customers in good weather and bad."
FPL's investments to strengthen its overhead power lines also have resulted in enhanced daily reliability, with hardened lines performing approximately 40 percent better than lines that have not been hardened.
"We have worked hard to improve service for our customers and we're seeing results – improving reliability by approximately 25 percent over the past five years," said Silagy. "We know that reliability is extremely important to our customers and our state's economy, and our nearly 9,000 dedicated employees are committed to continuing to improve the service we provide each and every day."