JUNO BEACH, Fla., Sept. 11, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) has launched a massive effort to restore power to the approximately 4.4 million customers impacted by Hurricane Irma, some of whom may have experienced multiple outages. Nearly 19,500 FPL employees and workers from other utilities and electrical contracting companies have commenced restoration, and as of 7 p.m., more than 1.1 million customers who were affected by the storm have had their service restored.
"Hurricane Irma is unprecedented by almost every measure – its size, destructive power and slow movement. All 27,000 square miles and 35 counties of our service territory have been impacted by this devastating storm," said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. "We have the largest restoration workforce in U.S. history responding to the worst storm in our company's history. Our crews are out restoring power, and every hour of every day more and more people are getting their lights back. That said, we anticipate that much of the electric system in Southwest Florida will require a complete rebuild, which could take weeks. In contrast, we expect our electric system along Florida's East Coast will require more traditional repairs. Regardless, this will be a lengthy restoration effort."
FPL crews are working to restore service to its customers safely and as quickly as possible. We must get a solid assessment of the full extent of the damage from this powerful and devastating hurricane before we can provide a system-wide or county-level estimated time of restoration. FPL understands that people need to know when their power will be restored, and we pledge to communicate increasingly specific information as soon as we are able.
"FPL's massive restoration workforce of nearly 19,500 is out in force responding to outages caused by Irma," added Silagy. "I urge all of our customers across the state to continue to be prepared for widespread and prolonged power outages. We ask for the patience of our customers during what will be one of the most challenging rebuild and restoration efforts in our company's history. We understand how challenging it is to be without power for a long period of time, and will work around the clock until all of our customers have their electricity back on."
Immediately after a storm, we know if main power lines have been damaged. If customers believe their power is out for this reason, there is no need to contact us. However, customers can report an outage at FPL.com/outage or using the FPL Mobile App. Customers should call FPL at 1-800-4OUTAGE (1-800-468-8243) only to report conditions such as downed power lines or sparking electrical equipment. Call 911 for life-threatening emergencies.
Substation flood mitigation technology preventing damage
During Irma, FPL proactively shut down two substations in the areas of St. Augustine and South Daytona that were forecast to have extensive flooding in order to mitigate damage to the system.
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 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 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 potentially mitigates damage to our system and allows us to bring the substation online faster following a storm.
How we restore power
FPL has begun restoring power in multiple locations. We follow an overall plan that calls for restoring power to the largest number of customers safely and as quickly as possible. We don't restore power based on when customers report an outage, where customers live or the status of accounts:
- 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.
As restoration continues, there are a few ways customers can help:
- Avoid stopping crews to ask when power will be restored. Directing questions to FPL restoration workers slows down their work and, more importantly, can compromise their safety. Typically, restoration workers don't know restoration times. They've been assigned to a single segment of an affected line. FPL will provide estimated times of restoration through the media, Facebook, Twitter and FPL.com.
- When you're out driving, clear the way for FPL trucks so that crews can get to their next work site faster. The restoration workers truly appreciate this courtesy, as they work long hours to get the power back on for all affected customers.
- When gathering post-storm debris, keep utility poles and transformers clear so that restoration workers have access to them.
Please stay safe
Even when winds have subsided, conditions can be dangerous. We urge customers in stormy and 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 extreme 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.
- Exercise caution and avoid all power lines when cleaning up hurricane debris and vegetation:
- No trimming should be done near a power line. Do not attempt to remove or trim foliage within 10 feet of a power line. If a tree or tree limbs have fallen on a power line or pulled it down, do not approach the line or the tree. Customers should call FPL at 1-800-4OUTAGE (1-800-468-8243) to report conditions such as downed power lines or sparking electrical equipment. Call 911 for life-threatening emergencies.
- Be especially careful when working with any extended equipment or tools. 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.
Additional 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 nearly half-a-million downloads.
How to recognize FPL workers and contractors
FPL takes the safety of our customers very seriously, and we want you to know how to identify FPL workers:
- FPL employees carry a photo identification badge.
- The cars and trucks of non-FPL employees who are helping with restoration efforts are typically marked as FPL-approved contractors or emergency workers.
- FPL employees, contractors and workers from other utilities helping with post-storm restoration efforts may need to work on your property, but they will not need to enter your home or business.
How to stay informed
FPL communicates restoration information to customers frequently through the news media and the following resources:
Visit FPL.com/powertracker for outage information.
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