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FPL strengthens grid and advances its Storm Secure plan

Nov 28, 2006

JUNO BEACH, Fla. -- Florida Power & Light Company today reported that throughout the relatively quiet 2006 hurricane season it has continued to implement its Storm Secure plan aimed at providing customers with a more reliable and robust electrical infrastructure under future storm conditions. With the end of the 2006 hurricane season now in sight, the company said it is delighted that its customers were not affected by any major hurricanes and that it will continue to prepare and plan for future storm seasons.

“We are pleased that this year’s hurricane season is nearing its end without any major storms threatening our customers. While we were ready for the 2006 hurricane season, we used the time provided by an absence of hurricane activity to continue to bolster our infrastructure and perform general on-going maintenance to enhance the reliability of the grid,” said Geisha J. Williams, FPL vice president for electrical distribution and the executive in charge of storm restoration. “No system is completely immune from the wrath of hurricanes; however, through Storm Secure our infrastructure will be systematically strengthened to better weather the impact of future storms.”

Storm Secure Plan

Following the 2004 and 2005 hurricane season, which saw FPL customers affected by seven storms in a period of fifteen months, FPL launched Storm Secure, a comprehensive plan to make the electrical infrastructure more resilient against future hurricanes, minimize the number of outages and reduce restoration time following a storm. The key points of Storm Secure are:

  • Upgrade the System to Withstand Higher Winds Hardening the system is the main initiative of FPL’s Storm Secure plan.  While no system can be 100 percent hurricane proof, FPL is taking great steps to improve the resiliency of its system to storm conditions.  FPL plans to adopt the National Electrical Safety Code standard for extreme wind velocity zone criteria -- withstanding wind gusts of up to 150 mph -- for all new distribution construction and targeted upgrades. As part of Storm Secure, the utility completed upgrades of the critical electrical infrastructure facilities serving Port Everglades in Broward County; the Port of Palm Beach and St. Mary's Hospital in Palm Beach County, and Mount Sinai Medical Center and the Jackson Memorial Hospital complex in Miami-Dade County.  Future upgrades throughout its service territory are planned for 2007 and beyond.
  • Encouraging Underground Lines – Pending approval from the Florida Public Service Commission, FPL has proposed to invest 25 percent of the cost of local-government sponsored overhead-to-underground conversion projects. Currently, more than 37 percent of FPL’s distribution system is already underground.
  • Inspecting Poles More Often – FPL and its contractors have inspected more than 85,000 of the company’s 1.2 million wooden poles so far this year. FPL plans to continue pole inspections at the rate of 500 poles per work day as part of an on-going systematic eight-year pole inspection and treatment cycle for its distribution wood poles. The inspection includes a visual, sound and bore, and strength analysis for every pole. Based on the outcome of the inspection, poles may be treated, reinforced with a steel truss, or replaced if required.
  • Increasing Line Clearing and Vegetation Management Activities – FPL increased its line-clearing activities by 27 percent in 2006, completing 75 percent of its planned feeder line clearing by July 31 with all remaining scheduled work to be completed by year end. Power lines serving critical infrastructure facilities also were cleared prior to the start of the hurricane season. Going forward, FPL will continue its three-year tree trimming cycle for main distribution lines and has adopted a six-year tree-trimming cycle for its lateral lines. 

Looking Ahead to 2007

FPL’s conversion to these industry-leading higher standards will take years to complete, but the company is already well into planning a Storm Secure roadmap to complete future projects in 2007 and beyond.  The first priority is to continue strengthening the circuits that serve critical infrastructure facilities.  The company also is looking at major thoroughfares where businesses that provide basic necessities such as fuel and food are located. In addition, FPL will continue to evaluate new products and technologies to efficiently make the infrastructure more resilient to hurricanes in the future.

“In 2006 we achieved all of our Storm Secure objectives and our plans for 2007 call for more pole inspections, increased tree trimming and strengthening more poles and wires serving our critical infrastructure facilities,” said Manny Miranda, vice president of FPL’s Storm Secure group.  “Storm Secure is a long term commitment to make our system more resilient to future hurricanes.  We expect our Storm Secure plan to provide positive benefits for our customers in years to come.”

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