When Will My Power Be Back? FPL Urges Patience

Carla Harmon
September 13, 2017

The move came as the state prepared for Hurricane Irma, which knocked out power to millions of FPL customers.

"That is consistent with what we expected to see", said Rob Gould, chief communications officer for the state's largest power company. "And it will be underway and continued".

A total of 216 outages in the three counties are affecting around 50,881 Georgia Power customers as of 6 a.m. Tuesday.

Hurricane Irma triggered one of the bigger blackouts in USA history, plunging as many as 13 million people into the dark as the storm dragged down power lines and blew out transformers. In Lee County, 198,950 of FPL's 259,900 had outages, according to the website.

So far, FPL has restored power to 200,000 customers in Miami-Dade. In Immokalee, Everglades City and Lehigh Acres, none of its customers had electricity.

A Florida utility executive says restoring full power to Florida after Irma will take some time.

"We estimate we will have restored power to essentially all of our customers along the east coast service territory by the end of this coming weekend, with the possible exception of areas impacted by tornadoes, severe flooding and other pockets of severe damage", the statement read.

On Florida's harder-hit Gulf Coast, FPL estimates power restoration could wrap up by September 22. "This one is going to take a lot longer". The company said, however, it could request an increase if storm restoration costs exceed $800 million in any calendar year. "This will not be just a daylight operation".

In the past day, FPL was able to restore roughly 2.3 million outages, he said. As of Tuesday morning, power had been restored to about 40 percent of those customers.

But even if US utilities put all power lines underground, they wouldn't necessarily be safe from hurricanes, which have more than just high winds in their arsenal.

Wilma, a devastating storm in its own right, did not reach as many areas of the state as Irma and affected only 21 counties, he said.

"We know the weather has cleared, it's sunny out, and patience will wear thin", he said. "Yes, you've mitigated the risk of losing power because of a failure in the pole or a tree getting blown into the lines".

That means the utility will be able to restore power quicker, Gould said.

"What we think we'll see on the west coast is a wholesale rebuild of our electric grid", Gould said on Monday, ABC News reported. "We've had minimal impact on our generation facilities". The company's alert messaging system stated Monday evening that there were over 925,000 customers without power across the state.

Next, FPL tends to the "critical infrastructure", including hospitals and 911 centers, Gould said. "That will happen because we will be bringing big blocks of customers back into service".

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