JUNO BEACH, Fla. – With today marking the formal end of the hurricane season that officially started June 1, Florida experienced its seventh-consecutive year without a direct hit from a hurricane. Tropical systems, however, are powerful forces of nature. Florida Power & Light Company and its customers were impacted by four major storms in 2012 and provided significant support to those in the northeast.
This storm season demonstrated that no electric company is storm proof and that FPL has a comprehensive storm plan that focuses on readiness, restoration and recovery to respond safely and as quickly as possible if a major storm strikes its service territory.
“Though storm season might be done on the calendar, we prepare year-round for weather and other events that have the potential to disrupt service. Our goal is always to minimize the impact on our customers,” said FPL President Eric Silagy.
2012 Storm Season
This storm season, which saw early tropical activity, brought four named systems (Tropical Storm Beryl in May, Tropical Storm Debby in June, Tropical Storm Isaac in August and Hurricane Sandy in October) that collectively disrupted electric service to nearly 900,000 of FPL’s 4.6 million customers across the state. FPL line workers demonstrated their technical skills as they safely restored power to more than 80 percent of customers within 8 hours of their service interruption.
“Even when a hurricane does not make landfall in our territory, the associated tropical storm force winds, rain and flooding that often come with these massive systems can cause damage or interfere with restoration efforts,” said Silagy. “We are on a peninsula in Florida with hundreds of miles of coastline. As much as we prepare, storms can damage power lines and equipment, causing outages.”
FPL Received Mutual Assistance Twice During 2012
As part of mutual assistance agreements, FPL coordinates with other utilities to receive out-of-state support. These preparations, along with ordering restoration equipment and supplies and securing staging sites throughout Florida prior to hurricane season, enable the company to quickly deploy crews and equipment to storm-damaged communities.
FPL received mutual assistance from partnering utilities twice during 2012:
- For Tropical Storm Isaac, FPL pre-staged almost 2,500 additional line personnel and electrical contractors from partner utilities as far north as Pennsylvania and as far west as Ohio to respond to Isaac. Fortunately, the storm’s path did not directly impact Florida as many had predicted, but two days of heavy rain, flooding and high winds still caused significant damage.
- For Hurricane Sandy, FPL secured more than 100 additional line workers from partner utilities in Florida, who joined the company’s restoration effort along the entire east coast of Florida.
FPL Provided Mutual Assistance Twice During 2012
Through the Southeast Electric Exchange, FPL offers mutual assistance to other utilities once the company is assured that customers in its service territory are no longer at risk of being impacted by a tropical system.
FPL provided mutual assistance twice to the northeast in 2012:
- Super Derecho, July 2012 -- FPL sent 135 workers to Maryland to help restore power following the Super Derecho storm that impacted several mid-Atlantic states.
- Hurricane Sandy, October 2012 -- FPL deployed nearly 1,000 employees and contractors – including material handlers and operations & logistics professionals – along with bucket trucks, tankers, fuel pumper trucks and other equipment to assist 11 utilities from Virginia to New Jersey to restore power and rebuild their electric systems following Sandy.
“We are committed to doing everything we can to help fellow utilities and their customers in their time of need, and we are grateful to receive assistance when we need it. The concept of mutual assistance is very important to our industry,” said Silagy.
FPL continues to focus on storm resiliency
In the 20 years since Hurricane Andrew, FPL has invested to make its systems more resilient to storms, utilized significant technological advances, improved how crews and resources are positioned, and made its emergency response organization more efficient to help restoration efforts. In addition, there are many tools and technologies that FPL uses today that didn't exist in the early '90s including improved weather information, Global Positioning Systems, restoration spatial view and infrared technology.
Technology advancements allow FPL to inform customers about restoration efforts faster after a storm. For example, hours after a storm, FPL creates a preliminary restoration estimate using computer modeling based on historical data. The estimate will change as damage reports from the field are complete, but it’s intended to help customers and communities make initial plans.
In addition, at the start of the 2012 storm season, FPL opened the state-of-the-art Category-5-rated FPL Command Center in Riviera Beach, Fla., that is the brain center of the company’s restoration and logistics planning for its 35-county service territory.
Florida Power & Light Company
Florida Power & Light Company is the largest electric utility in Florida and one of the largest rate-regulated utilities in the United States. FPL serves approximately 4.6 million customer accounts and is a leading Florida employer with approximately 10,000 employees. The company consistently outperforms national averages for service reliability while its typical residential customer bills, based on data available in December 2011, are about 25 percent below the national average. A clean energy leader, FPL has one of the lowest emissions profiles and one of the leading energy efficiency programs among utilities nationwide. FPL is a subsidiary of Juno Beach, Fla.-based NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NEE). For more information, visit www.FPL.com.