Florida Power & Light Company today urged customers to finalize their safety preparations and prepare for potential power outages as Hurricane Matthew continues to approach Florida’s east coast.
The company also took the unprecedented step of initiating robocalls to nearly 3 million customers under a tropical storm watch or higher, urging them to take the time now to prepare for potential power interruptions.
Based upon the current forecast path, intensity and FPL’s historical modeling, the company anticipates that approximately 1.2 million customers could experience power outages due to this dangerous and damaging storm. Additionally, FPL anticipates that some customers may experience more than one outage throughout the duration of the storm.
“We understand the anxiety many of our customers are feeling at this moment and want to reassure them that we’re ready to respond,” said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. “We’re deploying more resources pre-storm than ever before. During the past 24 hours, we have significantly increased our restoration team, including additional reinforcements from out of state with workers from as far west as Texas and as far north as Massachusetts. Our total restoration workforce is now more than 12,000 strong with approximately 9,000 of these workers in the field to restore our customers’ power. As long as it’s safe, we’ll be out there restoring power as the first bands of severe weather hit, and we’ll work continuously after the storm clears until all customers have power again.”
Since 2006, FPL has invested heavily in developing one of the nation’s most advanced smart grids. A key focus of that investment has been to make the electric system stronger by upgrading main power lines that serve critical local facilities and other community needs. This prepares FPL’s system to better withstand severe weather, and importantly, enables the company to restore power to customers faster following major storms.
“A major hurricane is a powerful force of nature, which is why we felt it important enough to initiate a robocall to nearly 3 million of our customers urging them to prepare for potential power interruptions,” Silagy said. “We urge our customers to complete their final preparations now, making safety their highest priority, and thank them in advance for their patience with what we know will be a challenging next several days. Please know that we’ll be out in force as soon as it’s safe to work.”
Depending on Matthew’s ultimate path and intensity, damage to the electrical infrastructure could be extensive. Flooding, fallen structures, debris and other obstacles could affect the speed of power restoration. Excess vegetation and debris are also anticipated to cause restoration challenges. Following severe weather, FPL 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. 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.
What we’re doing
- At FPL, we’re finalizing preparations for the impact of Matthew:
- We’re mobilizing and pre-positioning our restoration workforce, so they can quickly start working as soon as it is safe to do so.
- We’ve prepared 11 main staging sites and 12 supporting sites to help speed restoration.
- We’re asking customers to make safety their top priority, particularly since Florida hasn’t experienced a major hurricane since 2005.
- Immediately after the storm clears, we will send out teams to conduct firsthand damage assessments, so we can estimate when repairs will be finished and power restored in each affected area. Using state-of-the-art modeling and historical storm data, we’ll be able to determine how quickly we can restore power to all impacted customers.
What you can do
Safety is always our first priority. We urge customers to make it their top priority, too:
- Prepare to be without power and keep a battery-operated radio on hand with a supply of fresh batteries.
- Record your FPL account number in a location that will be readily available. By knowing your account number, you will be able to quickly access your account online at FPL.com. Also, have our phone number (1-800-4OUTAGE or 1-800-468-8243) handy in the event you need to call to obtain information through our automated system.
- If someone in your home is dependent on electric-powered, life-sustaining medical equipment, review your family emergency plan for back-up power, or make arrangements to relocate when a storm warning is issued.
- If you plan to use a ladder while preparing your home for the storm, note the location of power lines before you begin. Be sure that ladders or scaffolds are far enough away so that you – and the ends of the tools you’re using – stay at least 10 feet away from power lines. Before lowering a TV antenna or satellite dish, make sure to turn off and unplug the TV.
- Most counties suspend trash and debris pickup before a storm. Please do not trim trees now, as high winds can turn cut branches into dangerous, flying debris. However, if you already have trimmed trees, please help to prevent outages by tying down or securing loose branches or other debris.
- Adjust refrigerators and freezers to their coldest settings ahead of time to keep food fresher longer in the event of a power outage.
- Don’t venture out in the dark, because you might not see a downed power line that could be energized and dangerous; avoid standing water and debris.
- If you see a downed power line, call 911 and 1-800-4OUTAGE (1-800-468-8243). Stay away from all power lines.
Visit FPL.com for more preparation and safety tips.
FPL urges customers to review their family and business emergency plans, keep a close watch on the development of the storm and follow the advice of local government. Preparation and safety tips are available at FPL.com.
How to stay informed
FPL communicates restoration information to customers frequently through the news media and the following resources:
- FPL website: FPL.com
- Twitter: twitter.com/insideFPL
- Facebook: facebook.com/FPLconnect
- FPL blog: FPLblog.com
- FPL Power Tracker: FPL.com/powertracker