"We have activated our emergency response plan in anticipation of severe weather, particularly as this storm could quickly intensify given the warm waters that exist off the east coast of Florida," said Eric Silagy, president and chief executive officer of FPL. "At present, we're squarely focused on ensuring that we're fully prepared for the potential of tropical weather, up to and including a low-level hurricane. That includes pre-positioning thousands of workers for rapid restoration, coordinating with state and county emergency operations centers, and securing additional workers from other utilities and electrical contracting companies.
"We have been extremely aggressive with our vegetation management program each and every year. That said, given this could be Mother Nature's first wholesale clearing effort in more than a decade due to a relative lack of tropical weather, we fully anticipate whole trees and excess debris, such as branches and palm fronds, to cause power outages. Following severe weather, crews must cut away trees and other debris that have fallen into power lines, or that are in the way, to find and fix damage safely and as quickly as possible."
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 water 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 we prepare for storm season
- Prior to storm season, we conduct extensive training to prepare our employees to respond safely and as quickly as possible if a storm threatens our service territory.
- We secure agreements for assistance from out-of-state utilities and electrical contracting companies in case additional restoration workers should be needed. We also order backup supplies and equipment, and we plan staging sites throughout our 35-county service territory.
- We work closely with local emergency officials to update lists of facilities that are critical to the community, such as hospitals, police and fire stations, communication facilities, water treatment plants and transportation providers.
- We also prepare and strengthen our infrastructure throughout the year by:
- Clearing tree limbs and branches from power lines;
- Inspecting poles for strength;
- Upgrading poles from wood to concrete or steel; and
- Inspecting power lines and equipment with infrared technology to detect issues the naked eye can't see, and making any needed repairs.
Please stay safe
Safety is always FPL's first priority. We urge customers to make it their top priority, too:
- 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 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 backup 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 will 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.
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 2015 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, visit these websites: www.NextEraEnergy.com, www.FPL.com, www.NextEraEnergyResources.com.
NOTE TO EDITORS: Storm Prep B-roll: https://fpl.sharefile.com/d-s9c54373f5f54a1bb
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SOURCE Florida Power & Light Company