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FPL aggressively working to restore electricity to remaining customers affected by Hurricane Matthew
-FPL has restored 98 percent of 1.2 million customer interruptions throughout Florida
-As of 7 p.m., approximately 26,000 customers remain without power
-Significant damage to neighborhood power lines requires rebuilding of electric infrastructure in hardest-hit areas, extending some customers' restoration until end of day Tuesday

JUNO BEACH, Fla., Oct. 10, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) today announced that as of 7 p.m., it has restored 98 percent of 1.2 million customer interruptions less than three days after Hurricane Matthew's exit from its service territory. Currently, approximately 26,000 customers remain without power.

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

Further inspection in the hardest-hit areas of Flagler, Volusia, Seminole, Putnam and St. Johns counties revealed significant damage to neighborhood power lines that requires FPL to rebuild large parts of its electric infrastructure. This will extend the restoration time for some customers until end of day Tuesday.

"Our crews are finding poles snapped in half and fallen trees on power lines," said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. "Because the damage is so extensive in some areas, such as Holly Hill in Volusia County, Palm Coast in Flagler County and Crescent City in Putnam County, our crews need to rebuild the electric infrastructure. This type of work requires manual labor, such as removing trees, installing new poles and re-hanging power lines, which takes longer than standard restoration.

"The significant flooding and damage in Central and North Florida is evidence of Mother's Nature's power and the intensity of a Category Four hurricane," said Silagy. "Additionally, our crews are dealing with vegetation challenges, as many of the badly damaged areas have not experienced these hurricane-force winds for more than a decade."

Restoring in the hardest-hit areas

At the height of restoration, FPL's workforce numbered 15,000, including our own employees along with workers from contracting companies and our partner utilities across the country. Our crews are squarely focused on restoring the remaining customers without power, and we won't stop until the last customer's lights are back on.

FPL has major staging and supporting sites throughout the North and Central areas, including St. Lucie, Indian River, Brevard, Volusia, Flagler, St. Johns and Putnam counties.

"Having spent the past several days in the field alongside our crews and customers, I understand how stressful it is to be without power," said Silagy. "We sincerely appreciate our customers' patience and understanding, and you have our firm commitment that we'll continue to work 24/7 to help get our communities back to normal."

The company is deploying three community response teams to areas with concentrated outages in Volusia, Flagler and Putnam counties. These teams will provide charging stations for electronic devices and free Wi-Fi to the immediate community. FPL has also staged its mobile command center in Brevard County to help coordinate resources.

How we restore power

We don't restore power based on when customers report an outage, where customers live or the status of accounts. Rather, we begin in multiple locations and follow an overall plan that calls for restoring power to the largest number of customers safely and as quickly as possible:

  • We start by repairing any damage to our power plants and the power lines that carry electricity from our plants to the local substations.
  • We prioritize restoring power to critical facilities, such as hospitals, police and fire stations, communication facilities, water treatment plants and transportation providers.
  • At the same time, we work to return service to the largest number of customers in the shortest amount of time − including service to major thoroughfares that host supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations and other needed community services.
  • From here, we repair the infrastructure serving smaller groups and neighborhoods, converging on the hardest-hit areas until every customer's power is restored.

Crews working to restore your power may not be visible to you

FPL's restoration team is working around the clock after Matthew to get power back on for every customer. These men and women are eager to restore service safely and as quickly as possible, and they are working to restore your power even when you don't see them.

  • Because of the way power is distributed, crews may be working on the same line from multiple locations, and one crew may have been directed to stop work while another takes action. Workers could be on a different street or at a substation working to restore your power.
  • If you see an FPL crew passing but not stopping, it may be because work must be performed at a nearby location before electric service can be restored to your home. In many instances, a single street is served by two different main power lines, and even different substations. In some instances, your neighbor may have power because their home may be served by a power line or substation that has not been affected, while the power line or substation serving your home is damaged.
  • FPL secures agreements for assistance from out-of-state utilities and electrical contracting companies in the event that additional restoration workers are needed to restore power. So while you might not see an FPL truck on your street or in your neighborhood during a power outage, you may see contractors and partner utilities supporting the restoration.

Supporting our neighbors in need

With the majority of our customers restored and our workforce dedicated to getting our last remaining customers back online, approximately 1,000 utility and contract restoration personnel were requested to return to their home states to support their own restoration efforts. FPL assures its customers it has the required resources, nearly 14,000 workers, to complete restoration in the affected areas.

"We are grateful for the assistance the additional crews provided us during this challenging time, and we offer them our gratitude as they head back home to help their own customers and communities also greatly impacted by this storm," said Silagy. "We want to extend help to those who helped us, and once our restoration is complete, we will look to send our FPL employees to help them."

Please stay safe

Even though Matthew has left our service territory, you still may encounter dangerous conditions. We urge customers to take the following safety precautions:

  • Stay far away from downed power lines and debris; lines could be energized and dangerous.
  • When working on a ladder, look up and 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.
  • Please follow the manufacturer's recommendations for proper generator use. Never operate a generator inside your home or garage, and keep generators well away from open windows to prevent dangerous fumes from entering your home or a neighbor's home.
  • If your home has water damage from leaks or flooding, water may come into contact with electrical wiring:
    • Use caution when disconnecting electrical appliances that are still plugged in. Don't stand in water when operating switches, plugging in or unplugging electrical cords.
    • When resetting circuit breakers, wear dry, rubber-soled shoes and stand on something dry and non-conductive, such as a dry piece of wood or wooden furniture.
    • If you have any doubts about your home's electrical system or are unsure of how to proceed, call a professional, licensed electrician.
    • In a flooded home, battery-powered lighting is the safest lighting source. Use flashlights when inspecting a home for possible damage.

Visit FPL.com for additional safety tips.

We are committed to keeping you informed

FPL communicates restoration information to customers frequently through the news media and the following mobile-friendly 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