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FPL is monitoring Hurricane Matthew and preparing for potential severe weather, including heavy rain and gusty wind, throughout the eastern portions of its service territory
- FPL has activated its emergency response plan and urges customers to prepare as well
- FPL workers and contractors are prepared to respond quickly to customers who may be affected along Florida's East Coast
- FPL has spent more than one-half billion dollars on vegetation management during the past 10 years, though power outages as a result of wind-blown trees and debris can be expected

JUNO BEACH, Fla., Oct. 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) today announced that given the current projected path of Hurricane Matthew, the company is preparing for the potential of severe weather and related power outages, and is urging its customers to do the same.

www.FPL.com. (PRNewsFoto/Florida Power & Light Company)

"FPL has activated its emergency response plan in anticipation of severe weather, particularly given the strength of the approaching storm, and with it, tropical-force wind gusts that could reach as far as 185 miles from its center," said Eric Silagy, president and chief executive officer of FPL. "This is an extremely powerful and dangerous storm and we fully anticipate excess debris, such as trees, branches and palm fronds, to cause power outages along the eastern portion of our service area. As a result, approximately 4,000 workers are prepared for rapid restoration, including FPL employees and Florida-based contractors, and we urge our customers to take the time now to make their preparations."

While much uncertainty remains regarding the exact path of the storm, the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center indicates that there is a significant chance that the East Coast of Florida could experience winds of 25-40 mph, with gusts up to 55 mph, due to the strength and reach of Hurricane Matthew. As a result, much of the East Coast of Florida is anticipated to experience heavy rain and gusty wind beginning as early as Wednesday evening.

"We have been extremely aggressive with our investments, including vegetation management, having invested $2 billion during the past decade," said Silagy. "And, while each storm is different, our investments in our electric grid are yielding significant benefits as evidenced by the fact that we were able to quickly restore power to our customers affected by Hurricane Hermine in September."

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 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 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

For further information: Media Line: 561-694-4442, @FPL_Newsroom