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FPL expects approximately 4.1 million customers may lose power at some point as a result of Hurricane Irma
- FPL is anticipating widespread damage throughout the service territory with significant impacts to the most densely populated areas
- FPL has a workforce of more than 13,500 from nearly 30 states that are being pre-positioned across its service area; we continue to secure additional resources
- FPL will conduct a deliberate and gradual shut down of its two nuclear power plants in the path of the storm well in advance of hurricane force winds; we have an adequate supply of power for all FPL customers
- FPL urges customers to finalize preparations; heed safety warnings of Gov. Rick Scott and other local, state and federal officials; download the new FPL Mobile App
JUNO BEACH, Fla., Sept. 8, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) today announced that based upon the current forecast path, intensity and FPL's historical modeling, the company anticipates that approximately 4.1 million customers could experience power outages due to this deadly storm. FPL anticipates that some customers may experience more than one outage throughout the duration of the event. In addition, the company has activated more than 20 staging sites and is pre-positioning a workforce of more than 13,500 workers across the state, with a particular emphasis on South Florida, so they are ready to respond safely and as quickly as possible.
"Our hardworking men and women at FPL, along with workers from partner utilities and electrical contracting companies from nearly 30 states, including as far away as California, are ready to respond to what likely will be one of the most destructive and formidable storms our country has ever experienced," said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. "With a storm of this magnitude, there will be widespread destruction throughout our service territory, and most of it will be in the most densely populated areas of South Florida. This likely will be one of the most challenging restorations that our country has ever seen. However, this is what we train and plan for year-round, and we are fully committed to being there for our customers when they need us the most. For us, this is personal given we too live and work here."
Due to the anticipated strength and magnitude of Irma, customers should expect prolonged power outages. Additionally, significant damage will likely require crews to rebuild parts of our electric system.
Deliberate and gradual shut down of power plants
"It's important for our customers to know that our Turkey Point and St. Lucie nuclear power plants are two of the strongest structures in the world with the main portions of the plant encased in a 6-foot thick cement structure reinforced by steel. In addition, these nuclear facilities have multiple safety systems and layers of redundancy, and they are elevated well above sea level – approximately 20 feet – to protect against flooding and extreme storm surges. We continue to coordinate closely with federal regulators to ensure safety is always the top priority in everything we do," added Silagy.
In addition, we may power down some of our natural gas power plants that are in the path of the storm as part of our standard safety protocols. This mitigates damage to our plants and equipment and allows us to bring the site online faster following a storm. That said, FPL will have adequate supply of power to meet customer needs.
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 throughout our service area. 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.
During Hurricane Matthew, FPL proactively shut down a substation in the St. Augustine area that was forecast to have extensive flooding in order to mitigate damage to the system. This critical decision is estimated to have saved at least 24-48 hours in restoration efforts, and helped 6,500 customers get their lights back on faster.
"Be assured that we are better prepared to respond to hurricanes now than at any time in our company's history; however, a Category 4 hurricane is a powerful force of nature. We expect significant, destructive impacts from Irma in our service area as 90 percent of our customers are located within 20 miles of the coastline," Silagy said. "We urge our customers to complete their final preparations, prepare for potential prolonged outages and make safety their highest priority. And we thank our customers in advance for their patience with what we know will be a challenging time ahead – whether we're restoring power, which could take days, or rebuilding our electric system, which could take weeks. Please know that we'll be out in force as soon as it's safe to work."
Depending on Irma's ultimate path and intensity, high winds, storm surge and possible tornados, damage to the electrical infrastructure could be extensive. This damage could require extended repair work, and is likely to require us to rebuild some parts of our system. Flooding, fallen structures, debris and other obstacles also can affect the scope and speed of power restoration. Excess vegetation and debris are anticipated to cause substantial restoration challenges, especially given that South Florida has yet to experience Mother Nature's wholesale clearing effort by way of such a powerful storm in more than a decade. Following severe weather, our crews must cut away trees and other vegetation that have fallen into power lines, or that are in the way, to find and fix damage safely and as quickly as possible.
What we're doing
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:
What you can do
Additional 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.
How to stay informed
Customers also can sign up for pre- and post-storm email updates at FPL.com/storm.
Florida Power & Light Company
SOURCE Florida Power & Light Company
For further information: Florida Power & Light Company, Media Line: 561-694-4442, @FPL_Newsroom