Expect ‘challenges in the days ahead’, FPL leader says

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Soggy conditions leading up to slow-moving Hurricane Ian will create “challenges in the days ahead,” Florida Power & Light CEO Eric Silagy said Tuesday.

“We have very saturated ground from a lot of rain over the past few weeks and months, so we expect there will be a lot of trees coming through. There will be a lot of debris flying around. in the air,” he told a press conference at the FPL command center in West Palm Beach, also noting the risk of rain, flooding and storm surge.

As the storm passes over our heads, FPL said customers must anticipate outages, even potentially prolonged ones between 12 and 24 hours or several days. It all depends on how strong and slow the storm is and where it eventually ends, Silagy said.

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“We could see tornadoes. We can see very strong pockets of damage, which forces us to rebuild the system, which will just take longer to (restore power),” Silagy said.

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While every storm is different, Silagy said Ian’s track is reminiscent of Hurricane Irma in 2017 and Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

“But really, you never know what Mother Nature is going to throw at you, so what we do is we prepare for the worst, we plan and drill for it, and then we adapt based on what happens. actually happening,” he said.

FPL can shut down its Manatee County power plant in Parrish if winds reach more than 100 miles per hour, but the shutdown won’t impact the utility’s ability to deliver power, it said. he noted.

The Juno Beach-based utility announced Tuesday that it had added 3,000 additional catering crew members to the 13,000 it had prepared to deploy the day before, with help from 27 states. The utility is setting up 24 readiness sites to quickly deploy teams to restore power to affected areas.

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FPL will also use its smart grid technology to attempt to restore power when conditions are too dangerous for crews to be away, in addition to using drones to monitor the damage once the storm has passed. Silagy said it will take utility service about a day after the storm pass to fully understand the extent of the damage and get an idea of ​​the duration of the restoration efforts.

“I would ask you to finalize your plans, batten down your hatches and be prepared to weather the storm and know that we will be, as soon as it is safe, on the ground to restore power, 24 hours a day until last clients are restored,” Silagy said.

FPL Chairman and CEO Eric Silagy provides an update on the company's preparedness efforts for Hurricane Ian on September 27, 2022.

Silagy advised residents to stay off the roads when the hurricane hits and to assume that every downed line is an electrified power line. If you see a downed line, report it to emergency services or Florida Power & Light, he said.

In the event of a power outage, Silagy advised residents to keep their refrigerator doors closed to preserve food longer; if you have well water, make sure you have plenty of fresh water on hand as the pump will not work without electricity; and always use a portable generator outdoors, as carbon monoxide poisoning is extremely dangerous.

Silagy noted that the company’s multi-hundred-million-dollar investment in storm protection has improved recovery times, but “there is no such thing as a hurricane-proof power grid.” .

“There will be damage to the network. If a large oak falls, it will remove a concrete post as much as it will remove a wooden post. It can also destroy underground lines, when you see these big balls of roots going over the sides of the house itself,” he said. “But the tougher storms helped prevent several days of power outages during the storms, and most importantly, it makes a difference every day.”

Hannah Morse covers consumer issues for The Palm Beach Post. Email [email protected], call 561-820-4833 or follow her on Twitter @mannahhorse.