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Florida Power Restoration Starts with ‘Automation,’ Safety
Print Article Contributed by BSM Staff

JUNO BEACH, FL – Though lengthy power outages remain a threat to millions of people, Florida Power & Light Company has already restored power to hundreds of thousands of customers, even as the further damage and flooding is expected across the state.

"Despite Irma's exceedingly high winds, tornadic activity, storm surge and severe flooding, FPL has restored power to hundreds of thousands of customers, due largely to automation along its energy grid," said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL.

He said the company has seen significant damage and severe flooding in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, and Irma's impact has been felt in Palm Beach County and northern coastal communities.

“We expect the west coast to be the hardest-hit area, requiring an extensive rebuild of our energy grid,” said Silagy. “As a result, our west coast customers will likely be without power for a much longer period of time. We urge everyone to continue to stay safe and ask for your patience."

FPL warned customers to expect more than one outage throughout the duration of the storm, particularly as Irma's speed slowed. As of Sunday afternoon, FPL had restored more than 350,000 outages in the midst of Hurricane Irma, primarily as a result, it said, of “the $3 billion invested over the past decade to make our electric system stronger and smarter.”

FPL's restoration workforce is restoring power in between bands of severe weather where conditions permit and it's safe to do so. We are poised to begin thorough damage assessments as soon as it is safe to work, and will provide broad estimates of when power will be restored as soon as available.

"We understand how challenging it is to be without power. Just like our customers, we too live here and take this personally, and all of us at FPL are dedicated to getting the lights back on safely and as quickly as possible," added Silagy. "We assembled the largest pre-storm restoration workforce in our nation's history, but this will likely be a recovery effort of historic proportions, extending for weeks. You have my personal commitment that we will continue to work around the clock until every customer's electricity is back on."

How to restore power

FPL’s protocol calls for restoring power to the largest number of customers safely and as quickly as possible. “We don't restore power based on when customers report an outage, where customers live or the status of accounts,” said Silagy. The plan calls for the following:
• Repair any damage to power plants and power lines that carry electricity from our plants to the local substations.
• Prioritize restoring power to critical facilities, such as hospitals, police and fire stations, communication facilities, water treatment plants, transportation providers and shelters.
• At the same time, work to return service to the largest number of customers in the shortest amount of time − including service to major thoroughfares that host supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations and other needed community services.
• From here, we repair the infrastructure serving smaller groups and neighborhoods, converging on the hardest-hit areas until every customer's power is restored.

As restoration continues, there are a few ways customers can help:
Avoid stopping crews to ask when power will be restored. Directing questions to FPL restoration workers slows down their work and, more importantly, can compromise their safety. Typically, restoration workers don't know restoration times. They've been assigned to a single segment of an affected line. FPL will provide estimated times of restoration through the media, Facebook, Twitter and FPL.com.

When you're out driving, clear the way for FPL trucks so that crews can get to their next work site faster. The restoration workers truly appreciate this courtesy, as they work long hours to get the power back on for all affected customers.

When gathering post-storm debris, keep utility poles and transformers clear so that restoration workers have access to them.

Please stay safe
Even when winds have subsided, conditions can be dangerous. We urge customers in stormy and flooded areas to take the following safety precautions:

Stay far away from downed power lines, flooding and debris; lines could be energized and dangerous.

Use extreme caution while driving. Power interruptions may cause traffic signals to stop working without warning. If you come to an intersection with a non-working traffic signal, Florida law requires that you treat it as a four-way stop.

If using a portable generator:
• Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for proper use;
• Plug appliances directly into the generator, not into the main electric panel, because the electricity may flow back into power lines and cause injuries;
• Only a licensed electrician should connect a generator to a main electric panel;
• Never operate a generator inside your home or garage; and
• Keep generators well away from open windows to prevent dangerous fumes from entering your home or a neighbor's home.
• Ensure that all electric appliances, especially ovens and stoves, are turned off to prevent fires.
• Exercise caution and avoid all power lines when cleaning up hurricane debris and vegetation:
• No trimming should be done near a power line. Do not attempt to remove or trim foliage within 10 feet of a power line. If a tree or tree limbs have fallen on a power line or pulled it down, do not approach the line or the tree. Customers should call FPL at 1-800-4OUTAGE (1-800-468-8243) to report conditions such as downed power lines or sparking electrical equipment. Call 911 for life-threatening emergencies.
• Be especially careful when working with any extended equipment or tools. 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.

Visit FPL.com/storm for additional safety tips.

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