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.
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 FPL’s electric system.
Deliberate and gradual shut down of power plants
Both of FPL’s nuclear power plants, Turkey Point and St. Lucie, have completed their site preparations and are closely monitoring the storm. The nuclear units will be shut down in a deliberate and gradual manner well in advance of the onset of hurricane force winds.
In addition, FPL may power down some of its 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 its 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.
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 saved at least 24-48 hours in restoration efforts, and helped 6,500 customers get their lights back on faster.
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.
“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.”