Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL) is marking the end of this year's relatively quiet hurricane season on November 30 by moving forward with its accelerated storm-strengthening program, which the Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC) approved November 14.
FPL will invest about half a billion dollars over the next three years to continue to enhance the overall strength of its electric system against high wind associated with hurricanes and other major weather events with the ultimate goal of reducing outages and more quickly restoring power.
During the six-month 2013 Hurricane Season that began June 1, Tropical Storm Andrea was the only named storm to affect FPL's service area. During the first week of June, FPL deployed a team of more than 2,400 line personnel to respond to scattered power outages caused by Tropical Storm Andrea's high-wind gusts and heavy rains. FPL restored electric service to 96 percent of the about 50,000 customers who experienced power outages during the storm within eight hours, and the average outage duration was 78 minutes.
The performance in recent years of FPL's electric distribution system, particularly during a number of tropical systems that have impacted its service network, clearly demonstrates that the company's investment is resulting in fewer and shorter power outages.
In addition, under normal weather conditions, these strengthened power lines have experienced a reduction in the frequency of daily outages by up to 40 percent. Strengthening includes installing additional poles, replacing poles, sometimes with concrete or steel, and/or moving equipment underground.
Following lessons learned from Superstorm Sandy, as well as from Florida storm activity, FPL began installing storm-surge protection enhancements at 25 substations in Miami-Dade, Broward, Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Brevard and St. Johns counties. These upgrades, which include adding flood monitors, flood-resistant doors, impact windows and sump pumps, are expected to be completed in 2013.
FPL will also complete the installation of flood monitors at more than 200 substations throughout the company's 35-county service area by June 2014. The monitors will provide real-time data to make decisions about how to protect critical equipment at substations during storm surges, help prevent loss of power to customers during a storm and speed restoration efforts.
New smart grid technology provides FPL with greater visibility into power outages. More thorough and expedient information about the electric system can help FPL better isolate power issues, more effectively deploy crews and more accurately forecast estimated times of restoration. Computer modeling, based on historical data, helps generate a preliminary overall restoration estimate just hours after a storm. This early estimate is intended to help customers and communities make initial plans until actual damage reports from the field are complete. FPL updates this early estimate to reflect the better and more current information available.
FPL's recently approved accelerated strengthening effort builds upon the approved program the company has been executing since 2007. From 2007 through 2012, FPL invested a total of nearly $460 million to strengthen the electricity-delivery backbone, including upgrades to infrastructure serving facilities that are critical to communities.