Florida Power & Light’s Rob Gould was interviewed on “CNN Tonight with Don Lemon” last week. Gould is VP and Chief Communications Officer at FPL, Director of Communications, and he discussed some insights about restoration in general.
FPL “had about 4.4 million of our customers out of service, and we are fast approaching getting about half of those customer back in service tonight [as of Sept. 12], just after one day,” Gould told Lemon.
Gould then described how FPL is “bifurcating the state in terms of estimated time to restoration” and is “working the entire state” and provided a 10-day estimate for overall restoration, with essentially all customers on the East Coast restored by the end of the weekend. The plan was essentially for all of the customers on the West Coast, where damage was greater, to be restored within 10 days, by Friday, Sept. 22.
He added “But let’s face it, if you are in the dark tonight, that progress is small solace—it is not a whole lot, for those folks who are without power tonight.”
He emphasized that FPL is going to continue aggressively attacking the area: “What we are doing is going to be swarming certain areas. We are challenged by some floodwaters that are still in place and we are challenged frankly by some traffic and other things. We have enough resources in our territory to respond and restore the power. But we have to set expectations. This is still very a manually labor-intensive process.
“We are encouraged, though, I will say, by some of what we are seeing. The investments we have put in, over the past decade, the $3 billion worth, are actually yielding results, that we think will benefit our customers, in terms of a faster restoration. What I mean by that is, we are not seeing the poles down that we anticipated. We are not seeing the transmission lines down, and that is the backbone of our system, almost the interstate highway of electricity that brings power into the neighborhoods. So we think that we are going to be in a better position than we were in, going into it, but it is still going to be a long restoration for some people, just because there were tornadoes and there was severe flooding and there were other severe impacts.”
He was then asked about whether there is no need to bring in additional generators until power is back up, and he said “absolutely not, in fact or generation assets, our power plants are doing very well. That is not an issue. We have plenty of power to supply our customers. This is really a pure restoration play right now. At the end of the day, we have a ton of technology on our system, a lot of self-healing, but there is still an element of this industry that is dependent upon manual labor, There is just no way around that. So having an army about 20,000 restoration folks out in the field, and attacking this as we are, that’s really what it’s all about. What we need from our customers, and what we beg for from them, is the patience to work with us and understand that we are not going to rest. We are going to go day and night until we get this thing addressed.