JUNO BEACH, Fla., Sept. 19, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- As of this evening, Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) has restored service to nearly all of its 4.4 million customers, or nearly 99 percent, impacted by Hurricane Irma.
"As we have said from the beginning, the latter part of any restoration, particularly one of this scope and magnitude, is always the most challenging," said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. "Massive downed trees, flooded areas, tornado damage and other significant obstacles continue to challenge our more than 28,000 men and women who have been working 16-hour days in the blazing summer heat and humidity to restore service. We sincerely thank those still without power for what little patience and understanding may remain and assure you that we are working around-the-clock to get the lights and air conditioning back on.
"We also recognize that the crews working to restore service may not always be readily visible given work locations may be behind homes or in tree-lined areas. This can create a false impression that we are not attacking the situation, which couldn't be farther from the truth. In fact, in Miami-Dade County, we will tomorrow have more than 6,500 restoration workers, including 2,000 who will be deployed to Southwest Florida as soon as they finish their work. These crews will finish up the few remaining jobs in areas such as Coral Gables, which for many years, has placed restrictions on our efforts to trim trees and harden our electric system. Unfortunately, for our customers in that area, they are now paying the price in terms of extended outages. Needless to say, we are anxious to complete this part of the process so that we can finally move our forces across the state and complete restoration for our Southwest customers."
In the North, service has been restored to essentially all customers in Suwannee, Columbia, Alachua, Union, Bradford, Baker, Nassau, Duval, Clay, Putnam, St. Johns, Flagler and Volusia counties – meaning more than 99.9 percent of customers who were affected by Irma are restored.
In Central Florida, service has been restored to essentially all customers in Seminole, Orange, Brevard, Osceola, Indian River, St. Lucie, Okeechobee and Martin counties.
Along Florida's eastern coast, service has been restored to essentially all customers in Palm Beach and Broward counties. Miami-Dade County is 99.7 percent restored.
In Southwest Florida, Manatee, Hardee, Sarasota and Charlotte are essentially restored. Power restoration is 87 percent complete or higher in DeSoto, Highlands, Glades and Lee counties. Hendry County is 90 percent restored and 83 percent of customers are restored in Collier County, where Irma made landfall and inflicted the worst damage.
Restoration continues on track for all counties. Exceptions could occur in areas throughout Florida that were impacted by tornadoes, severe flooding, and heavy tree and debris damage. There may also be instances in which a customer's home or business is structurally damaged and unable to safely accept power. In addition, some of the outages may be the result of normal, day-to-day activity and not related to Irma. Customers who live in a county where power is essentially restored, but do not currently have electricity, should report their outage at FPL.com/outage.
Customers may experience outages over the coming weeks and months due to weakened trees and branches that could fall impacting power lines and electric equipment. In addition, significant wind speeds have loosened electrical connections throughout the system that can lead to increased outages following the storm. Some FPL customers have already experienced repeated outages since Irma struck due to this situation. FPL crews will continue to make needed repairs as they are identified.
FPL has established walk-up sites for our customers in several communities. These sites provide charging stations, water, Wi-Fi, ice, community service and restoration information, and customer service assistance. Please visit FPL.com/powertracker to see locations and times.
Restoration challenges in the hardest-hit areas
As restoration efforts in some parts of our service territory wrap up, crews are converging into the hardest-hit areas, where they are focusing on restoring remaining outages. Oftentimes, this type of work requires hours of exhaustive, manual labor in order to get only a handful of customers back into service.
"Our crews are up against extraordinary circumstances as they work street-by-street and house-by-house to restore power," said Silagy. "In some cases, they must carry heavy equipment through waist deep-water, only then to have to hoist and maneuver equipment into place as they climb 30-foot power poles. In other instances, workers have suffered dog bites, mosquitoes and bee stings, including a swarm that inflicted more than 500 bee stings to one worker. These are just a few examples of the operating conditions our restoration workers are finding themselves in."
Tree damage, dense vegetation and limited access continue to be a challenge in many parts along Florida's East Coast. In Palmetto Bay, for example, three poles needed to be replaced after fallen trees crashed into them. Due to space constraints, crews were forced to use a large crane to lift a power pole over homes and into place.
"This is a story that is repeating itself across our service territory as we grapple with extremely large trees and related debris," said Silagy. "As a result, we have doubled-down on our resources to tackle this challenge head-on. We have more than twice as many tree crews working this restoration effort as compared with Hurricane Wilma in 2005."
FPL will continue to communicate restoration information through the media and online via FPL.com, Facebook and Twitter. Customers should call FPL at 1-800-4OUTAGE (1-800-468-8243) only to report conditions such as downed power lines or sparking electrical equipment. Call 911 for life-threatening emergencies.
Be certain your home or business is ready to receive power
If the power is on next door but yours is not, make certain that your home or business is ready to receive it by checking the connection to FPL.
Please stay safe and help us keep crews safe
We urge you to continue taking the following safety precautions:
How to stay informed
FPL communicates restoration information to customers frequently through the news media and the following resources:
Visit FPL.com/storm for the latest restoration information.
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