Tampa Electric prepares year-round for storm season

TAMPA, Fla., June 1, 2005 (PRNewswire-FirstCall) — Storm season starts June 1, but Tampa Electric prepares year-round to deal with the potential impacts of hurricanes and widespread power outages. Tampa Electric’s comprehensive storm plan is in place and ready to help restore power as safely and quickly as possible in the event of a storm.

Storm season, which runs through Nov. 30, is a particularly vulnerable time for the system of wires and equipment delivering electricity to homes and businesses. Severe storms can damage Tampa Electric’s energy delivery systems, and power outages are not uncommon during storm conditions.

As with all its activities, safety is Tampa Electric’s number one priority following a storm. Tampa Electric’s second objective in the event of widespread outages is to restore power to the largest number of customers in the shortest possible time. Team members work to restore power to the entire service area as safely and quickly as possible.

Tampa Electric’s restoration priorities

Electric service is restored in a pre-determined order of priority. Facilities identified as “critical” to public health and safety by governmental agencies, such as hospitals, disaster centers and main police and fire stations, come first. This way, these critical agencies can assist with other storm-related problems or injuries.

For the protection of public health, primary water and sewer installations are next, followed by all others, including communication service providers, schools, nursing homes, supermarkets, home improvement/building supply centers, insurance facilities, etc.

Due to the configuration of the power system, part of a residential subdivision could have its power restored while another is still without power. All residential areas are considered equally important, and Tampa Electric works safely and quickly to restore service to all.

When a major storm’s arrival is imminent, Tampa Electric coordinates with utilities and contractors across the nation to mobilize crews towards Florida. Tampa Electric’s crews are placed on call so that they are available to repair any damage affecting Tampa Electric’s lines and equipment, but only when they can do so safely, typically when winds have slowed below 40 mph.

Reporting emergency and non-emergency power outages

In situations where there is general damage throughout the area, such as the aftermath of a hurricane, Tampa Electric urges customers to limit their calls to the company, except to report an emergency situation, such as a downed power line.

When there are widespread outages throughout the electrical system, calling more than once to report an individual power outage does not help restore the power faster, but does tie up the telephone lines, preventing emergencies from being reported.

Tampa Electric’s contact numbers are:

* (813) 223-0800 inside Hillsborough County
* (888) 223-0800 (toll-free) outside Hillsborough or Polk County
* (863) 229-0800 in Polk County

Updating customer contact information

When a customer calls to report an outage, Tampa Electric’s automated phone system uses his or her telephone number at the location where service is delivered to identify the trouble spot.

This helps ensure that Tampa Electric’s outage management system (OMS) is updated and ready to automatically generate a work order for repair crews if an outage occurs at that home or place of business.

The OMS groups outage calls by location, checks them against a detailed circuit model database and predicts where the problem is. Updated mobile computers in service trucks allow troublemen to tap the expanded information and quickly respond to the outage. This is the fastest, most efficient way Tampa Electric can restore power.

To help prepare for restoration, Tampa Electric is asking customers who may have changed their home or business telephone numbers (the phone number where electric service is delivered) to inform the company of the change.

The quickest, easiest way to update a phone number is to go online, and follow these instructions:

* Go to www.tampaelectric.com
* Scroll down to “Your Account”
* Click on “change account information”
* Click on “update your telephone number”
* Provide your name, address, account number, the last four digits of your Social Security number and your email address.

Customers’ role in restoring service

Following a storm, Tampa Electric’s plan relies on teams of workers patrolling the electric system to identify or pinpoint problems. Customers can enhance their safety and Tampa Electric’s restoration efforts by observing the following guidelines:

* Stay away from any downed power lines. These lines may still be energized. If so, they are dangerous. Downed lines do not have to pop and snap to be energized. All persons should avoid any contact with any downed line or any object, such as a tree branch, fence, vehicle or even water that has come in contact with a downed power line. It is safest to assume any downed power line is energized.

* Use portable generators safely. DO NOT connect a portable generator to home circuits. Plug appliances directly to the generator. Connecting a generator to home circuits may cause power to flow to outside lines, posing potential hazards to restoration crews. Also, portable generator must NOT be taken into a residence or any enclosed space where deadly carbon monoxide gasses could build up. There are also other devices, such as invertors, that can provide some emergency backup power for small appliances through an automobile engine. (Note: this should not be done in a closed garage.)

* Obtain a telephone that plugs directly into the wall jack. Portable household telephones won’t work without electricity and area cell phone systems could be disrupted.

* In the event of an outage, prepare the home for power restoration. Customers should make sure their homes are ready to safely receive electricity once power has been restored. Make sure there are no flammable items on the stove, no irons left on or other potentially dangerous situations. Turn off as many appliances as possible that require electricity and turn them on one by one after power is restored. This causes less stress to the power system and ensures that all customers get restored without unnecessary delays. Customers may want to leave their front porch light on to let you know when power is restored. When in doubt, or when leaving the home for an extended period, customers should switch off their power at the main breaker.

Visit online for more information

For additional media materials, information about Tampa Electric’s storm plans, or to obtain one of Tampa Electric’s storm season brochures, visit www.tampaelectric.com.

New this year, www.tampaelectric.com now offers a “Weather Watch” section, including current weather information, an emergency checklist, a downloadable storm brochure, storm preparedness tips, useful weather links and more. From the homepage, simply click the Weather Watch button.

Also available online is information on the Zap Cap System® for Home or for Business, Tampa Electric’s complete year-round surge suppressor system for homes and businesses, to help protect sensitive electronics and appliances from damaging, high-voltage surges.

About Tampa Electric Company [ www.tampaelectric.com ]

Tampa Electric Company is the principal subsidiary of TECO Energy, Inc., an integrated energy-related holding company with core businesses in the utility sector, complemented by a family of unregulated businesses. Tampa Electric Company is a regulated utility with both electric and gas divisions (Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas System). Other subsidiaries are engaged in waterborne transportation, coal and synthetic fuel production and independent power.

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