BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. – Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) today officially opened its new Boynton Beach Service Center, which was constructed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane. The energy company will use the facility – one of 12 service centers it is hardening throughout the state – during storms to provide a secure location for dozens of staff members and contractors to ride out a storm and pre-stage equipment for restoration efforts.
“Critical to restoring power is having lineworkers and vegetation crews pre-staged in the areas where they will be most needed,” said Bryan Olnick, vice president of distribution operations for FPL. “To do that, we recognized the need to have buildings that are able to withstand hurricane force winds and safely house employees and materials before, during and after a storm.”
Day-to-day, the two-story, 25,000-square-foot building will serve as the new home for employees who work in the Boynton Beach and southern Palm Beach County areas, and are responsible for planning, designing, maintaining and repairing the energy grid to provide customers with reliable service.
FPL selected sites to harden based on a number of factors, including the impacts of prior storms, future infrastructure requirements and plans, the buildings’ susceptibility to flooding and proximity to other FPL facilities.
Once the 12 service centers are completed this year, FPL will collectively provide space for more than 1,000 storm riders to respond quickly and efficiently following a hurricane or tropical storm.
“One of the obstacles we face each time we pre-position thousands of men and women ahead of a major hurricane is identifying safe places to ride out the storm,” said Olnick. “While we do everything we can to restore service as fast as possible after a hurricane, we cannot and will not cut corners when it comes to safety. During future storms, these new service centers will play a vital role in our preparation by providing a safe staging point for the brave men and women who face the storm head-on.”
Pre-staging crews, billions of dollars in investments help speed restoration during Irma
Ahead of Hurricane Irma, which affected more than 4.4 million customers, FPL pre-staged thousands of men and women throughout the state to put them in the best possible position to start restoring service to customers once it was safe to do so. The restoration workforce, which eventually grew to 28,000, coupled with the billions of dollars FPL invested since 2006 to make the energy grid stronger and smarter, shaved days off the restoration.
Despite Hurricane Irma being significantly stronger and more devastating to the state than Hurricane Wilma, FPL restored service more quickly. About 95 percent of customers had their power restored within seven days after the storm’s passing compared to 15 days after 2005’s Hurricane Wilma. Hardened or strengthened main power lines withstood the storm’s impact better than those that were not hardened. For example, a fraction of the number of poles was damaged in Hurricane Irma compared to Hurricane Wilma. Smart grid technology enabled customers to avoid approximately 546,000 outages during the storm.
“While hardening is not intended to prevent all outages, hardening helped make our system more resilient to Hurricane Irma and provided for a faster restoration,” Olnick said.
2018 improvements in the Boynton Beach area
Since 2006, FPL has been making the energy grid stronger, smarter and more storm-resilient. When the planned 2018 work is completed, FPL will have made the following improvements in and near Boynton Beach since 2006:
- Strengthened 15 main power lines, including those that serve critical services, such as Bethesda Hospital East, Bethesda Hospital West, city of Boynton Beach’s 9-1-1 communications center and a water treatment plant, that are necessary for communities to recover faster after a storm;
- Cleared tree branches and vegetation — a major cause of power outages — from 1,470 miles of power lines, an average of 123 miles every year;
- Inspected all 11,680 power poles every eight years, strengthening or replacing those that no longer meet FPL’s standards for strength;
- Installed smart grid technology, including 693 automated switches on main and neighborhood power lines to help detect problems and restore service faster when outages occur; and
- Inspected 73 main power lines and equipment using infrared technology to detect issues before they cause a power interruption.
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 30 percent lower than the latest national average and among the lowest in the U.S. 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 was recognized in 2017 as one of the most trusted U.S. electric utilities by Market Strategies International for the fourth consecutive year. A leading Florida employer with approximately 8,700 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 2018 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.