ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Aug. 1, 2002 — Florida Power has opened its new state-of-the-art dispatch center in St. Petersburg, which allows the company to provide improved customer service and response to outages.
Florida Power previously used three dispatch centers located near the City of Oviedo, Disney World and in St. Petersburg, to dispatch line and service personnel across the company’s 20,000-mile service territory.
The new consolidated dispatch center, located adjacent to the company’s Energy Control Center in St. Petersburg, merges the strengths of the independent dispatching centers to ensure consistency of procedures, resources and information. It is equipped with cutting-edge technology and provides greater supervisory and technical support to dispatchers, who manage the complexities of Florida Power’s storm response and crew scheduling.
“This is among the finest, most well-equipped dispatch center of any utility in the country,” said Robert Sipes, Florida Power’s executive director of Distribution Operations and Support. “It allows us to vastly improve the level of service we provide and ensure the information we communicate to our customers is consistent and accurate.”
When most outages occur across Florida Power’s system, an immediate alert is provided to dispatchers in the new center. Dispatchers then coordinate with the company’s line and service personnel to respond quickly and safely.
Once on site, Florida Power crews use mobile data terminals, carried on all service vehicles, to communicate details of an outage both to dispatchers and to the Florida Power customer service center, which can then provide more accurate information to customers inquiring about outages.
“Our line and service crews in the field are collectively as hard working a group of people as you’ll find,” said Sipes. “But in the past, when using three different dispatch centers, those crews were dispatched and communicated with in three different manners. We now are able to implement consistent procedures to ensure quicker response and better customer service.”
Florida Power’s new dispatch center comes online in coordination with the company’s new dispatch radio system. The system increases radio reliability and coverage and will create a single radio system throughout Florida Power. The new radios will also reduce interference from other radio users, paging systems and TV companies.
The new facility is yet another step taken toward reaching Florida Power’s Commitment to Excellence goals of improved customer service and reliability, lower rates and increased generation reserve.
The company is investing in excess of $100 million over the next three years in system reliability, including $1.5 million for the new dispatch center.
“We are committed to improving service,” Sipes added. “The best way to accomplish that is to work hard, invest in your core business, and improve and streamline procedures. And we’re doing that.”
Enhancements will include new technologies and operating centers across Florida Power’s service territory, placing line, service, engineering and management resources closer to customers, resulting in improved response time and quicker service restoration.
In March, Florida Power began constructing a new 500-megawatt power plant at its Hines Energy Complex in Polk County. May 1st, the company implemented a $500 million price reduction, resulting in a nine percent overall rate decrease for Florida Power’s 1.4 million customers. The rate decrease reduced the typical residential monthly bill of 1,000-kilowatt hours from $91.65 to $81.62, making Florida Power’s rates more than 10 percent lower than the national average.
Florida Power, a subsidiary of Progress Energy (NYSE: PGN – News), provides electricity and related services to more than 1.4 million customers in Florida. The company is headquartered in St. Petersburg, Fla., and serves a territory encompassing over 20,000 square miles including the cities of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, as well as the Central Florida area surrounding Orlando. For more information about Florida Power, visit the company’s Web site at: http://www.fpc.com.