JUNO BEACH, Fla., Sept. 9, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) today urged customers to finalize safety preparations and prepare for widespread and prolonged power outages, as powerful Hurricane Irma is forecast to make landfall near Southwest Florida.
"We are already responding to Hurricane Irma with the largest pre-storm restoration workforce ever assembled, not just in our company's history, but in U.S. history," said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. "We have an army of more than 16,000 hardworking men and women committed to restoring power as the first bands of severe weather impact our service territory and they will work continuously before, during and after the storm clears until all customers have power again. This team is almost three times the size of our everyday restoration team and about 25 percent larger than our pre-storm workforce in advance of Hurricane Matthew last year."
The majority of Florida, including some of the most densely populated areas, will be impacted by this powerful and deadly storm. Based upon the current forecast path, intensity and FPL's historical modeling, the company anticipates millions of customers could lose power.
"To be in the best possible position to restore power to our customers, FPL has adjusted the pre-positioning of its crews and equipment, and will continue to do so, as Irma's track evolves," said Silagy. "This allows our crews to swarm the hardest-hit areas and restore power safely and as quickly as possible. In addition, our customers along the East Coast of Florida should not become complacent because Irma's forecasted track has shifted west. This is a deadly and devastating hurricane and every part of Florida will feel the wrath of this storm. Florida's peninsula is only approximately 160 miles wide and this storm stretches more than 300 miles, so we expect storm surge and tropical storm-force winds or higher across our entire service territory. The most important thing now is to ensure customers have completed their final storm preparations and are ready to ride out this storm safely."
Some customers may experience more than one outage throughout the duration of the event, and prolonged outages may occur, especially if Irma's impact requires rebuilding part of the electric system before power can be restored. Given Irma's new projected path, FPL anticipates that much of its electric system in Southwest Florida will need to be rebuilt, which could take weeks. In contrast, we anticipate the damage on Florida's East Coast to be less severe, allowing for a restoration effort that may be completed within days of the storm passing.
Flooding, storm surge, fallen structures, debris and severe damage from potential tornadoes can affect the speed of power restoration. While we have been extremely aggressive with our tree trimming and vegetation-management program each and every year, this will likely be Mother Nature's first wholesale clearing effort in South Florida in more than a decade, which will contribute to excess debris. Following severe weather, FPL crews must cut away trees and other vegetation that have fallen into power lines, or that are blocking access, to locate and fix damage safely and as quickly as possible. Workers will operate bucket trucks and restore service in between bands of severe weather, as long as winds are below 35 mph and conditions are safe.
"We thank our customers in advance for their patience during what we anticipate will be one of the most challenging rebuild and restoration efforts in our company's history," Silagy said. "We take our responsibility to our customers – who include our own families, friends and neighbors –seriously. As the storm clears our service territory, more and more people will get their lights back on every hour of every day. We commit to do everything we can to help your lives return to normal as quickly as possible."
Please stay safe
Even when winds have subsided, you may still encounter dangerous conditions. Safety is always FPL's first priority. We urge customers to make it their top priority, too. Customers should:
Additional 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 400,000 downloads.
How we restore power
FPL has one of the strongest electric systems in the country, but no utility is hurricane-proof, especially when facing a storm such as Irma. As long as it's safe, crews will be restoring power as the first bands of severe weather hit, and will work continuously after the storm clears until all customers have power again. Immediately following the hurricane, we will send out teams to conduct first-hand damage assessments, so we can estimate what rebuilding may be necessary and when repairs will be finished and power restored in each affected area.
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:
Once restoration begins, there are a few ways customers can help:
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 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