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FPL mobilizes restoration workforce of more than 6,300 employees and contractors; urges customers to prepare for potential power outages from Hurricane Matthew
-- FPL is pre-positioning workers and equipment across the state to begin power restoration as soon as it's safe to do so
-- Our workforce of more than 6,300 includes an additional 2,000 external workers for power restoration efforts
-- We urge customers to make preparations and take safety precautions
-- 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. 4, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) today announced that with the approach of Hurricane Matthew, the company continues to make final preparations to restore service safely and as quickly as possible after what is forecast to be a very dangerous and damaging storm. FPL urges its customers to take the time now to prepare for potential power outages with an emphasis along Florida's east coast, though feeder bands can be expected to extend several hundred miles from the storm's center to the west coast of Florida. Additionally, given the nature of the approaching storm and expected vegetation-related impacts on FPL equipment, some customers may experience more than one outage throughout the duration of the storm.

www.FPL.com

"FPL is taking this storm extremely seriously, and as a result, we are mobilizing and pre-positioning a restoration workforce of more than 6,300 FPL and contractor workers so that we can quickly begin restoring power to our customers as soon as it is safe to do so," said Eric Silagy, president and chief executive officer of FPL. "Now is the time to make individual preparations, particularly those who are dependent upon electricity to power medical equipment. While the exact path remains unclear, we're asking our customers to make safety their highest priority."

The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center, issued as of this morning, indicates that Matthew likely will impact a large portion of FPL's service territory, with the strongest impacts along Florida's east coast. The hurricane's high winds and heavy rain, which could last for up to two days, are expected to damage electric lines and equipment, causing power outages. It is important to note that during that timeframe, restoration efforts may be delayed due to it being unsafe for workers to operate bucket trucks in wind conditions exceeding 35 mph or greater.

"For the better part of the past decade, FPL has invested heavily in developing one of the nation's most advanced smart grids," said Silagy. A key focus of that investment has been to make the electric system stronger by upgrading main power lines that serve critical local facilities and other community needs. This prepares our system to better withstand severe weather, and importantly, enables us to restore power to our customers faster following major storms." 

FPL has spent more than one-half billion dollars on vegetation management during the past 10 years. However, the company fully anticipates excess debris, such as trees, branches and palm fronds, to cause power outages, as this will be the first significant clearing in more than a decade due to a lack of major hurricanes.

"We're exercising our storm response plans and moving aggressively to ensure that we are as prepared as possible to restore power to our customers who may be impacted by the approaching storm," Silagy added. "Complementing our efforts are the proactive steps taken by Gov. Rick Scott in already declaring a state of emergency. By the governor taking this action, we are much better positioned to move critical resources into Florida with greater ease in advance of Matthew's potential impact on our state, including out-of-state workers and their equipment."

What we're doing

At FPL we have activated our emergency response plan, which includes:

  • Pre-positioning crews and equipment to speed restoration;
  • Acquiring additional restoration workers from out-of-state utilities and electrical contracting companies;
  • Finalizing logistics for staging sites in the areas most likely to be impacted; and
  • Coordinating our response with county emergency operations centers.

What you can do

Safety is always FPL's first priority. We urge customers to make it their top priority, too:

  • Keep a battery-operated radio on hand with a supply of fresh batteries, along with other essentials.
  • 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 online 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 back-up 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 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.
  • Adjust refrigerators and freezers to their coldest settings ahead of time to keep food fresher longer in the event of a power outage.
  • Don't venture out in the dark, because you might not see a downed power line that could be energized and dangerous; avoid standing water and debris.
  • If you see a downed power line, call 911 and 1-800-4OUTAGE (1-800-468-8243). Stay away from all power lines.
  • Visit FPL.com for more preparation and safety tips.

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 to stay informed

FPL communicates restoration information to customers frequently through the news media and the following resources:

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: Florida Power & Light Company, Media Line: 561-694-4442, @FPL_Newsroom
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