"We understand the anxiety many of our customers are feeling at this moment and want to reassure them that we're ready to respond," said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. "We're deploying more resources pre-storm than ever before. During the past 24 hours, we have significantly increased our restoration team, including additional reinforcements from out of state with workers from as far west as Texas and as far north as Massachusetts. Our total restoration workforce is now more than 12,000 strong with approximately 9,000 of these workers in the field to restore our customers' power. As long as it's safe, we'll be out there restoring power as the first bands of severe weather hit, and we'll work continuously after the storm clears until all customers have power again."
Since 2006, FPL has invested heavily in developing one of the nation's most advanced smart grids. A key focus of that investment has been to make the electric system stronger by upgrading main power lines that serve critical local facilities and other community needs. This prepares FPL's system to better withstand severe weather, and importantly, enables the company to restore power to customers faster following major storms.
"A major hurricane is a powerful force of nature, which is why we felt it important enough to initiate a robocall to nearly 3 million of our customers urging them to prepare for potential power interruptions," Silagy said. "We urge our customers to complete their final preparations now, making safety their highest priority, and thank them in advance for their patience with what we know will be a challenging next several days. Please know that we'll be out in force as soon as it's safe to work."
Depending on Matthew's ultimate path and intensity, damage to the electrical infrastructure could be extensive. Flooding, fallen structures, debris and other obstacles could affect the speed of power restoration. Excess vegetation and debris are also anticipated to cause restoration challenges. Following severe weather, FPL crews must cut away trees and other vegetation that have fallen into power lines, or that are in the way, to find and fix damage safely and as quickly as possible. Workers will operate bucket trucks and restore service in between bands of severe weather, as long as winds are below 35 mph and conditions are safe.
What we're doing
At FPL, we're finalizing preparations for the impact of Matthew:
- We're mobilizing and pre-positioning our restoration workforce, so they can quickly start working as soon as it is safe to do so.
- We've prepared 11 main staging sites and 12 supporting sites to help speed restoration.
- We're asking customers to make safety their top priority, particularly since Florida hasn't experienced a major hurricane since 2005.
Immediately after the storm clears, we will send out teams to conduct firsthand damage assessments, so we can estimate when repairs will be finished and power restored in each affected area. Using state-of-the-art modeling and historical storm data, we'll be able to determine how quickly we can restore power to all impacted customers.
What you can do
Safety is always our first priority. We urge customers to make it their top priority, too:
- Prepare to be without power and keep a battery-operated radio on hand with a supply of fresh batteries.
- 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 when a storm warning is issued.
- 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 and 1-800-4OUTAGE (1-800-468-8243). Stay away from all power lines.
- Visit FPL.com for more preparation and safety tips.
We've invested in a stronger, smarter energy grid
FPL is better prepared to respond to severe weather, having invested more than $2 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. Enhancements to the energy grid include:
- Strengthening more than 600 main power lines, including those that service more than 700 critical community facilities;
- Placing more than 450 main power lines underground;
- Clearing vegetation – a major cause of power outages – from more than 135,000 miles of power lines;
- Completing more than 1.4 million pole inspections – and upgrading or replacing those that no longer meet our standards for strength; and
- Installing 4.8 million smart meters and 36,000 intelligent devices along the electric grid using advanced technology that helps detect problems and restore service faster when outages occur.
Our system improvements mean fewer power outages, faster service restoration following storms and more reliable service for our customers every day. In the last five years, FPL has improved daily service reliability by 25 percent.
A key focus of our work is to make the electric system stronger by upgrading the main power lines serving critical local facilities and other community needs. This prepares our system to better withstand severe weather and enables us to restore our customers' service faster following major storms.
- These upgrades include local facilities, including all major hospitals, and essentially all 911 facilities and emergency operations centers in the 35 Florida counties we serve.
- We've also upgraded lines serving facilities that address other community needs, such as pharmacies, grocery stores and gas stations.
- By year-end 2016, FPL will have strengthened all main power lines serving critical facilities.
As a lesson learned from 2012's Superstorm Sandy, FPL has installed real-time flood monitors at 223 substations that are most susceptible to storm surge, including substations in Miami-Dade, Broward, Collier and Lee counties. 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.
FPL urges customers to review their family and business emergency plans, keep a close watch on the development of the storm and follow the advice of local government. Preparation and safety tips are available at FPL.com.
How to stay informed
FPL communicates restoration information to customers frequently through the news media and the following resources:
Florida Power & Light Company
Florida Power & Light Company is the third-largest electric utility in the United States, serving more than 4.8 million customer accounts or more than 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, in 2015, was the lowest in Florida among reporting utilities for the sixth 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 2016 as one of the most trusted U.S. electric utilities by Market Strategies International. A leading Florida employer with approximately 8,800 employees, FPL is a subsidiary of Juno Beach, Fla.-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 2016 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.
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SOURCE Florida Power & Light Company