JUNO BEACH, Fla., Sept. 7, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) today announced that they have mobilized a restoration workforce of more than 11,000 employees and contractors in preparation for the landfall of Hurricane Irma. The company has activated more than 20 staging sites and is already pre-positioning crews in the areas anticipated to be hardest hit, so they are ready to respond safely and as quickly as possible. FPL is continuing to secure additional support and resources from out-of-state utilities and electrical contracting companies.
"We continue to pre-position an army of line and vegetation workers across the state where they can make the biggest impact as soon as it is safe to do so," said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. "Due to the strength and magnitude of Irma, our service area will likely see widespread and substantial destruction that will require crews to literally rebuild parts of our electric system. Restoring power through repairs is measured in days, while rebuilding our electric system could be measured in weeks. However, no matter how extensive the damage, we are fully committed to working around the clock to get the lights back on for our customers."
While the path of the storm continues to fluctuate, the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center indicates the increasing chance of a direct hit to Florida, and life-threatening wind, storm surge and rainfall will likely be felt throughout FPL's entire service territory with significant impacts to the most densely populated areas.
"We have been extremely aggressive with our tree trimming and vegetation-management program each and every year," said Silagy. "That said, given this will likely be Mother Nature's first wholesale clearing effort in South Florida in more than a decade, we fully anticipate whole trees located off FPL's right-of-way and major debris to cause power outages. Following severe weather, crews must cut away trees and large branches that have fallen into power lines, or that are in the way, to find and fix damage safely and as quickly as possible."
FPL is better prepared for hurricanes now than at any time in our company's history. We have invested nearly $3 billion since 2006 to build a stronger, smarter and more storm-resilient energy grid that will allow us to restore power much faster than ever before. However, customers should expect prolonged power outages and they may experience more than one outage throughout the duration of the storm. FPL has one of the strongest electric systems in the country, but no utility is hurricane-proof, especially when facing a storm such as Irma.
"Hurricane Irma is one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes in recorded history – the likes of which the continental United States has rarely seen. It has already taken a devastating toll and claimed several lives in the Caribbean, and now it appears that much of Florida will likely feel the full impact of this formidable Category 5 storm," said Silagy. "Now is not the time to take a chance. We are taking this storm extremely seriously and we urge our customers to do the same. Customers should finalize preparations for their homes and families, heed warnings and evacuation orders and keep a close eye on the development of the storm."
What we're doing
At FPL we have activated our emergency response plan, which includes:
- Mobilizing more than 11,000 workers and their equipment to speed restoration;
- Acquiring additional restoration workers from out-of-state utilities and electrical contracting companies, and pre-positioning those already on hand;
- Opening more than 20 staging sites in the areas most likely to be impacted;
- Coordinating our response with county and state emergency operations centers; and
- Continuing to communicate with customers in multiple ways, including automated calls and text messages.
As Irma's outer bands begin to impact our service territory, we will restore power to customers as long as it's safe to do so. Immediately following the hurricane, once winds drop below 35 mph, we will continue restoration and conduct damage assessments with our field crews. These assessments help us determine an accurate estimate of when we will complete restoration.
Please stay safe
Safety is always FPL's first priority. We urge customers to make it their top priority, too:
- Keep a battery-operated radio on hand with a two-week supply of fresh batteries, along with other essentials.
- Record your FPL account number in a location that will be readily available. By knowing your account number, you will be able to quickly access your account online at FPL.com. Also, have our phone number (1-800-4OUTAGE or 1-800-468-8243) handy in the event you need to call to obtain information through our automated system.
- If someone in your home is dependent on electric-powered, life-sustaining medical equipment, review your family emergency plan for back-up power or make arrangements to relocate now.
- If you plan to use a ladder while preparing your home for the storm, 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, make sure to turn off and unplug the TV.
- Most counties suspend trash and debris pickup before a storm. Please do not trim trees now, as high winds can turn cut branches into dangerous, flying debris. However, if you already have trimmed trees, please help to prevent outages by tying down or securing loose branches or other debris.
- Adjust refrigerators and freezers to their coldest settings ahead of time to keep food fresher longer in the event of a power outage.
- Don't venture out in the dark, because you might not see a downed power line that could be energized and dangerous; avoid standing water and debris.
- If you see a downed power line, call 911 or FPL at 1-800-4OUTAGE (1-800-468-8243). Stay away from all power lines.
- Heed the warnings and evacuation orders by local, state and federal officials.
Additional preparation and safety tips are available at FPL.com/storm. In addition, customers can download the new FPL Mobile App for on-the-go, instant and secure access to their accounts. Customers can report or get the latest information on an outage. The app is available for download in the iOS App Store and Google Play. Since the app launched at the beginning of storm season, there has been more than a quarter of a million downloads.
We've invested in a stronger, smarter energy grid
Since 2006, we have invested nearly $3 billion to build a stronger, smarter and more storm-resilient energy grid to help us restore power faster following outages. By the end of 2017, FPL's enhancements to the energy grid will include:
- Strengthening nearly 860 main power lines, serving critical community facilities and services, such as police and fire stations, hospitals, 911 centers, grocery stores and gas stations;
- Placing more than 450 main power lines underground;
- Clearing vegetation – a major cause of power outages – from more than 150,000 miles of power lines;
- Regularly inspecting the company's 1.2 million power poles, and upgrading or replacing those that no longer meet FPL's standards for strength; and
- Installing nearly 5 million smart meters and 83,000 intelligent devices to help predict, reduce and prevent power outages, and restore power faster if outages occur.
Our system improvements mean fewer power outages, faster service restoration following storms and more reliable service for our customers every day. Over the last five years, FPL has improved service reliability by 25 percent. During Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew last year, our smart grid automated switches helped prevent nearly 150,000 customer interruptions. In addition, our strengthened main power lines resulted in 30 percent fewer power interruptions during a storm than standard power lines, and none of our strengthened poles failed during the 2016 hurricane season. That said, each storm is unique, as is the region impacted, which can affect restoration efforts.
As a lesson learned from 2012's Superstorm Sandy, FPL has installed real-time water monitors at 223 substations that are most susceptible to storm surge and flooding throughout our service area. 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 and used throughout FPL's service area.
While the monitors clearly cannot prevent flooding, they do give us more advanced warning if a flood threat emerges and allow us to proactively shut down a substation earlier. This mitigates damage to our system and allows us to bring the substation online faster following a storm.
How to stay informed
FPL communicates restoration information to customers frequently through the news media and the following resources:
Customers also can sign up for pre- and post-storm email updates at FPL.com/storm.
Florida Power & Light Company
Florida Power & Light Company is the third-largest electric utility in the United States, serving nearly 5 million customer accounts or an estimated 10 million people across nearly half of the state of Florida. FPL's typical 1,000-kWh residential customer bill is approximately 25 percent lower than the latest national average and, in 2016, was the lowest in Florida among reporting utilities for the seventh 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 2017 as one of the most trusted U.S. electric utilities by Market Strategies International. A leading Florida employer with approximately 8,900 employees, FPL is a subsidiary of Juno Beach, Florida-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 2017 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.
SOURCE Florida Power & Light Company
For further information: Florida Power & Light Company, Media Line: 561-694-4442, @FPL_Newsroom