JUNO BEACH, Fla., Oct. 8, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) today announced that as of 7 p.m., it has restored more than 850,000 customer interruptions since Hurricane Matthew began impacting Florida. Currently, approximately 330,000 customers remain without power.
"We understand that electricity is vital for our customers, particularly now, which is why our crews are working around the clock to help restore daily life to our affected communities," said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. "While we've already restored a significant portion of the 1.2 million customer interruptions caused by this dangerous and deadly storm, a large number still remains, and we will not stop until each and every one of our customers has their lights back on."
Severe flooding and damage in Central and North Florida is causing restoration delays; however, the company is committed to restoring power safely to the most people in the shortest amount of time.
FPL's restoration workforce of approximately 15,000, including FPL employees, along with workers from contracting companies and our partner utilities from across the country, have restored more than 850,000 customer interruptions in between bands of severe weather and around the clock after the storm passed through our service territory.
Based on the current assessment and resources dedicated to the restoration, FPL expects to complete power restoration to essentially all customers following Hurricane Matthew by end of day Sunday; however, pockets of severe flooding and damage likely will extend outages for a few customers until end of day Monday.
"We are moving restoration workers and equipment to the hardest-hit areas in Central and North Florida to speed restoration; however, significant flooding and damage from Matthew remains a challenge," Silagy said. "We'll continue to work aggressively to restore service to customers as quickly as possible."
FPL's mobile command center is staged in one of the hardest-hit areas, St. Augustine, and will help coordinate the work of restoration teams in that area to speed restoration. The company has also mobilized community response vehicles in St. Johns and Brevard counties in order to provide phone-charging services to the immediate community.
As of Friday night, service has been restored to all customers affected by Matthew in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. FPL anticipates that it will restore service to all impacted customers in Palm Beach County by end of day today.
Substation flood mitigation technology preventing damage
"As a lesson learned from 2012's Superstorm Sandy, FPL proactively shut down a substation in the St. Augustine area that was forecast to have extensive flooding in order to mitigate damage to the system," Silagy said. "This critical decision is estimated to have saved at least 24-48 hours in restoration efforts, and helped 6,500 customers get their lights back on faster."
FPL has installed real-time flood monitors at 223 substations that are most susceptible to storm surge and flooding, including substations in Miami-Dade, Broward, Collier and Lee counties. Substations play a critical role in providing service to customers by reducing high-voltage electricity from transmission lines to a level that can be distributed throughout FPL's service area.
While the monitors clearly cannot prevent flooding, they provide more advanced warning if a flood threat emerges, and allow us to proactively shut down a substation earlier. This potentially mitigates damage to our system and allows us to bring the substation online faster following a storm.
How we restore power
We don't restore power based on when customers report an outage, where customers live or the status of accounts. Rather, we begin 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:
- 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 and transportation providers.
- 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.
Crews working to restore your power may not be visible to you
FPL's restoration team is working around the clock after Matthew to get power back on for every customer. These men and women are eager to restore service safely and as quickly as possible, and they are working to restore your power even when you don't see them.
- Because of the way power is distributed, crews may be working on the same line from multiple locations, and one crew may have been directed to stop work while another takes action. Workers could be on a different street or at a substation working to restore your power.
- If you see an FPL crew passing but not stopping, it may be because work must be performed at a nearby location before electric service can be restored to your home. In many instances, a single street is served by two different main power lines, and even different substations. In some instances, your neighbor may have power because their home may be served by a power line or substation that has not been affected, while the power line or substation serving your home is damaged.
- FPL secures agreements for assistance from out-of-state utilities and electrical contracting companies in the event that additional restoration workers are needed to restore power. So while you might not see an FPL truck on your street or in your neighborhood during a power outage, you may see contractors and partner utilities supporting the restoration.
Investments in the grid
FPL has invested more than $2 billion since 2006 to build a stronger, smarter and more storm-resilient energy grid that allows us to restore power much faster than ever before. Based upon FPL's assessment from this storm, the company's investments are making a difference for customers, resulting in fewer outages and faster restoration times. These investments were demonstrated during Matthew, including:
- Automated switches on poles and wires, which reduce the number of customers impacted when we have outages, prevented as many as 25,000 outages thus far, and we expect this number to greatly increase once we validate outage information.
- Hardened feeders, which are designed to withstand more severe weather conditions, are performing approximately 1.5 times better than non-hardened feeders. No poles with hardened feeders sustained damage as a result of Matthew.
- Smart meter technology has made restoration following Matthew much more efficient. Smart meters show which customers are out of power, eliminating the need for customers to call in their outage. As a result, outages are reported in real time, allowing FPL to process the information automatically and more quickly restore power. It also reduces the number of times crews have to return to areas, allowing them to focus on continuing the greater restoration effort. FPL has installed 4.8 million smart meters, an integral part of the smart grid.
- Poles that were upgraded or replaced have performed well and prevented more serious outages. Since 2006, FPL has completed more than 1.4 million pole inspections, and upgraded or replaced those that no longer meet our standards for strength.
Please stay safe
Even though Matthew has left our service territory, you still may encounter dangerous conditions. We urge customers in flooded areas to take the following safety precautions:
- Stay far away from downed power lines, flooding and debris; lines could be energized and dangerous.
- Use caution while driving. Power interruptions may cause traffic signals to stop working without warning. If you come to an intersection with a non-working traffic signal, Florida law requires that you treat it as a four-way stop.
- If using a portable generator:
- Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for proper use;
- Plug appliances directly into the generator, not into the main electric panel, because the electricity may flow back into power lines and cause injuries;
- Only a licensed electrician should connect a generator to a main electric panel;
- Never operate a generator inside your home or garage; and
- Keep generators well away from open windows to prevent dangerous fumes from entering your home or a neighbor's home.
- Ensure that all electric appliances, especially ovens and stoves, are turned off to prevent fires.
- When working on a ladder, look up and note the location of power lines before you begin. Be sure that ladders or scaffolds are far enough away so that you – and the ends of the tools you're using – stay at least 10 feet away from power lines. Before lowering a TV antenna or satellite dish, be sure to turn off and unplug the TV.
Visit FPL.com for additional safety tips.
We are committed to keeping you informed
FPL communicates restoration information to customers frequently through the news media and the following mobile-friendly resources:
Florida Power & Light Company
Florida Power & Light Company is the third-largest electric utility in the United States, serving more than 4.8 million customer accounts or more than 10 million people across nearly half of the state of Florida. FPL's typical 1,000-kWh residential customer bill is approximately 30 percent lower than the latest national average and, in 2015, was the lowest in Florida among reporting utilities for the sixth year in a row. FPL's service reliability is better than 99.98 percent, and its highly fuel-efficient power plant fleet is one of the cleanest among all utilities nationwide. The company received the top ranking in the southern U.S. among large electric providers, according to the J.D. Power 2016 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction StudySM, and was recognized in 2016 as one of the most trusted U.S. electric utilities by Market Strategies International. A leading Florida employer with approximately 8,800 employees, FPL is a subsidiary of Juno Beach, Fla.-based NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NEE), a clean energy company widely recognized for its efforts in sustainability, ethics and diversity, and has been ranked No. 1 in the electric and gas utilities industry in Fortune's 2016 list of "World's Most Admired Companies." NextEra Energy is also the parent company of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, which, together with its affiliated entities, is the world's largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and sun. For more information about NextEra Energy companies, visit these websites: www.NextEraEnergy.com, www.FPL.com, www.NextEraEnergyResources.com.
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SOURCE Florida Power & Light Company
For further information: Florida Power & Light Company, Media Line: 561-694-4442, @FPL_Newsroom