Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL) is urging customers to be ready for the June 1 start of hurricane season. Superstorm Sandy in the Northeast last year showed that it just takes one storm to cause power grid damage and widespread power outages.
“It’s not a question if we are going to get a storm in Florida, it’s a question of where and when it’s going to hit,” said FPL President Eric Silagy. “While we keep adding new technology, strengthening our electric grid and preparing year-round for storms, hurricanes are extreme forces of nature that will cause power outages. We are focused on getting customers’ lives, communities and businesses back to normal as quickly as possible after a storm strikes.”
On May 1, 2013, FPL filed plans with the Florida Public Service Commission to invest about half a billion dollars over the next three years to continue to improve the overall resiliency of the electric system against high winds associated with hurricanes and other major weather events. This includes new storm-surge detection and protection efforts.
This accelerated hardening effort builds upon the approved program FPL has been executing since 2007. From 2007 through 2012, FPL invested a total of nearly $460 million to strengthen the electricity-delivery backbone and harden infrastructure serving facilities that are critical to communities such as hospitals, police and fire stations, 911 facilities, water-treatment plants, grocery stores, gas stations and pharmacies.
FPL prepares throughout the year for hurricane season, conducting extensive training for employees. Thousands of FPL employees have storm assignments in addition to their regular positions. As part of its storm preparation plan, FPL conducts an annual week-long storm drill, which took place this year April 29-May 3 with a simulated Category 3 storm. FPL also coordinates assistance agreements with other utilities for out-of-state support, orders in advance restoration supplies and equipment and secures staging sites throughout Florida. These preparations enable the company to quickly deploy crews and equipment to storm-damaged communities.
In advance of a storm making landfall, FPL activates its emergency response plan to prepare for potential damage to the electric infrastructure, which can be caused by high winds, lightning, flooding, storm surge, blowing debris or falling trees. These conditions can affect both overhead and underground power lines, and customers should be aware that restoring power after a damaging storm can be lengthy.
FPL’s restoration process concentrates on restoring power to the most critical functions first, such as hospitals, police and fire stations, and 911 centers, and then to the most people in the shortest time possible for maximum benefit to the community.
Florida Power & Light Co. is the largest rate-regulated electric utility in Florida and serves the third-largest number of customers of any electric utility in the United States. FPL serves about 4.6 million customer. FPL is a unit of Juno Beach, Fla.-based NextEra Energy, Inc. (NEE).