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FPL is mobilizing thousands of employees and equipment in preparation for the potential landfall of Hurricane Irma
- FPL continues to closely monitor Irma and has activated its emergency response plan
- The strength and intensity of this storm will likely require a lengthy restoration effort and parts of FPL's electric system may need to be rebuilt
- FPL is securing and prepositioning thousands of additional workers in areas anticipated to be hardest hit
- FPL urges customers to finalize their preparations and be ready for potential prolonged power outages; download the new FPL Mobile App

JUNO BEACH, Fla., Sept. 6, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) today announced that it is mobilizing thousands of workers and related equipment in preparation for the impact of Hurricane Irma and is urging customers to finalize their preparations. The company also is initiating automated calls and text messages to its nearly 5 million customers, urging them to take the time now to prepare for power outages.

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"Hurricane Irma is a massive storm with the very real potential for life-threatening wind, storm surge and rainfall throughout our entire service territory," said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. "With a storm of this magnitude and intensity, we know that each hour of preparation counts. That's why it's critically important that all of our customers heed the warnings of Gov. Rick Scott and all other local, state and federal officials and take the time now to make final preparations as it relates to their homes and families."

While there is much uncertainty regarding the exact path of the storm, the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center indicates there is a significant chance that Irma could impact or make landfall in FPL's service area, with some parts beginning to experience tropical-storm force winds as early as Saturday.

"Based on Hurricane Irma's size, strength and projected paths it appears that much of Florida will be impacted by this major storm, and we anticipate many customers will experience power outages," said Silagy. "Should Irma's worst fears be realized, our crews will likely have to completely rebuild parts of our electric system. Restoring power through repairs is measured in days; rebuilding our electric system could be measured in weeks. No matter how extensive the damage, you have our full commitment that we will work 24/7 to get the lights back on in our communities."

What we're doing

FPL is closely monitoring Irma, and we are preparing so we can restore power safely and as quickly as possible. We have activated our emergency response plan and have thousands of workers dedicated to planning and preparing to respond to Irma. In addition, we are working with out-of-state utilities and electrical contracting companies to secure additional resources. We have opened more than 20 staging sites throughout the service area, where restoration crews, trucks and equipment are stationed.

FPL urges its customers to review their family and business emergency plans, heed warnings and evacuation orders by local, state and federal elected officials, ensure they have supplies on hand and keep a close watch on the development and track of the storm.

Customers should also prepare for potential power outages. Additionally, given the nature of the approaching storm and flying debris, some customers may experience more than one outage throughout the duration of the storm.

Preparation and safety tips are available at FPL.com/storm. In addition, customers can download the new FPL Mobile App for on-the-go, instant and secure access to their accounts. Customers can report or get the latest information on an outage. The app is available for download in the iOS App Store and Google Play. Since the app launched at the beginning of storm season, there has been more than a quarter of a million downloads.

We've invested in a stronger, smarter energy grid

Since 2006, we have invested nearly $3 billion to build a stronger, smarter and more storm-resilient energy grid to help us restore power faster following outages. By the end of 2017, FPL's enhancements to the energy grid will include:

  • Strengthening nearly 860 main power lines, serving critical community facilities and services, such as police and fire stations, hospitals, 911 centers, grocery stores and gas stations;
  • Placing more than 450 main power lines underground;
  • Clearing vegetation – a major cause of power outages – from more than 150,000 miles of power lines;
  • Inspecting the company's 1.2 million power poles every eight years, and upgrading or replacing those that no longer meet FPL's standards for strength; and
  • Installing nearly 5 million smart meters and 83,000 intelligent devices to help predict, reduce and prevent power outages, and restore power faster if outages occur.

Our system improvements mean fewer power outages, faster service restoration following storms and more reliable service for our customers every day. Over the last five years, FPL has improved service reliability by 25 percent. During Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew last year, our smart grid automated switches helped prevent nearly 150,000 customer interruptions. In addition, our strengthened main power lines resulted in 30 percent fewer power interruptions during a storm than standard power lines, and none of our strengthened poles failed during the 2016 hurricane season. That said, each storm is unique, as is the region impacted, which can affect restoration efforts.

As a lesson learned from 2012's Superstorm Sandy, FPL has installed real-time water 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.

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 the event that additional restoration workers are needed. We also order backup supplies and equipment, and we plan staging sites throughout our 35-county service area.
  • 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:

  • 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.
  • Heed the warnings and evacuation orders by local, state and federal elected officials.

Florida Power & Light Company
Florida Power & Light Company is the third-largest electric utility in the United States, serving nearly 5 million customer accounts or an estimated 10 million people across nearly half of the state of Florida. FPL's typical 1,000-kWh residential customer bill is approximately 25 percent lower than the latest national average and, in 2016, was the lowest in Florida among reporting utilities for the seventh 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 2017 as one of the most trusted U.S. electric utilities by Market Strategies International. A leading Florida employer with approximately 8,900 employees, FPL is a subsidiary of Juno Beach, Florida-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 2017 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.

 

SOURCE Florida Power & Light Company

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