JUNO BEACH, Fla., Sept. 13, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- As of 8 p.m., Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) is reporting that electric service has been restored to more than 2.7 million customers impacted by Hurricane Irma in the first 48 hours since the storm left its service area.
More than 21,500 personnel are working to restore power to the approximately 1.7 million customers who remain without power.
"While we are making significant progress in our restoration efforts, we want to reassure all who are without power that we are squarely focused on getting their lights back on," said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. "We thank everyone for their patience, encouragement and support. We know how difficult it is to be without power, and you have our commitment that we are working every hour of every day to help all of our customers get their lives back to normal."
FPL will continue to communicate restoration information through the media and online via FPL.com, Facebook and Twitter. 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.
"This is a truly unprecedented restoration effort. Crews are working throughout the 27,000 square miles and 35 counties we serve," said Silagy. "We have restored all of our substations throughout our service territory and more than 1,000 main power lines. This is an important step in getting power to where our customers need it – in their homes and businesses."
Crews working to restore your power may not be visible to you
FPL's restoration operation is working around the clock after Irma to get power back on for every customer. Thousands of men and women are safely restoring service as quickly as possible. Even when you do not see them, our team is working to restore your power.
- 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 a 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, homes on the same street are served by different main power lines and even different substations. If work is completed on one of the main lines but not the other, it's possible for some neighbors to have power while other neighbors do not.
- Utilities work together when a disaster happens. FPL is receiving support from utilities and other companies from nearly 30 states and Canada. So while you might not see an FPL truck on your street or in your neighborhood during a power outage, you may see our partners from other companies who are part of our restoration team.
Investments in our grid speeding restoration
Over the last 11 years, FPL has invested nearly $3 billion to make the energy grid smarter, stronger and more storm-resilient.
"Our stronger, smarter and more storm-resilient energy grid, along with our training, our preparations and our restoration workforce, have allowed us to restore service so far at a pace roughly four times faster than during Hurricane Wilma's restoration in 2005," said Silagy. "In addition, initial assessments indicate that our electric equipment held up well against Mother Nature's fury. Especially encouraging is the fact that roughly 2,000 poles are down as opposed to the nearly 12,000 poles damaged during Wilma, and none appear to have fallen due to Irma's high wind but rather off-right-of-way trees. In addition, our hardened main power lines appear to have performed 30 percent better during Irma than non-hardened ones. In short, our equipment and smart grid did the jobs they were intended to do, and now it's time for our restoration workforce to finish the job and get the lights on."
We urge any customers who have special electricity-dependent needs and are without power to:
- Call 911 if it's a life-threatening situation.
- Check availability and capabilities of local special needs shelters. They may have (auxiliary) A/C, medical supplies, staff and services to assist people with special needs and in some cases, at-risk seniors with special needs.
- Visit FloridaDisaster.org/shelters for links to find open shelters near you. You can also call 3-1-1 or 2-1-1, if available in your area, for assistance in locating shelters.
- As we have urged all customers before, during and after this storm: Continue to have a plan for backup equipment and power up to the estimated dates of restoration we have released.
How we restore power
FPL follows 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.
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 hourly updates of 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