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article imageIrma will put $3 billion worth of power grid updates to the test

By Karen Graham     Sep 9, 2017 in Technology
Tampa - With more than 48,000 homes and businesses in the area around Miami and Fort Lauderdale already having lost power, according to Florida Power & Light, the big question remains - Will FPL's $3 billion upgraded power grid be able to withstand Irma's wrath?
NextEra Energy Inc.’s Florida Power & Light Co. (FLP) has spent close to $3 billion in ratepayer funds since 2006 upgrading its electrical grid, according to Kit Konolige, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst based in New York. The work started after Hurricane Wilma came through in 2005, knocking out power to 3.5 million customers.
FPL's upgrades have included replacing wooden poles with concrete ones, the installation of flood monitors to protect low-lying substations and the deployment of smart meters to help track power outages. At a news conference on Friday, FPL spokesman Rob Gould said if Irma stayed on its projected path, many customers would still lose power.
FPL s Lake City pre-storm preparations set to go.
FPL's Lake City pre-storm preparations set to go.
Florida Light & Power
Gould added that the company may have to rebuild parts of its power system, and this could take weeks or even longer, “if Irma’s worst fears are realized." The company may turn off some substations ahead of any flooding. This will help in protecting some of the grid infrastructures, making it easier to restore power once the flood waters recede.
FPL power outage estimates downgraded
As of 4 p.m. Eastern time, according to the Los Angeles Times, there were 38,990 outages in the Miami-Dade County area, 6,696 in Broward and 2,373 in Palm Beach County.
FPL s Lake City pre-storm preparations set to go.
FPL's Lake City pre-storm preparations set to go.
Florida Light & Power
FPL crews have been restoring power even as outages continued to grow, with plans to work until the winds got too strong for safety. FPL did lower the number of customers it expected to lose power from 9.0 million customers, 40 percent of the state's population, to 3.1 million accounts, or 6 million people in the service area.
Eric Silagy, Florida Power & Light’s chief executive officer, said on Friday, “We have the strongest, most highly engineered, smartest grid in the U.S. but there is no way to engineer against a storm of this kind of magnitude. Even underground facilities are going to be subject to outages because of flooding and storm surge.”
But at a midday news conference on Saturday, Gould said power outages caused by Hurricane Irma are now expected to be only a repair job. FPL has about 13,500 repair workers standing ready to jump in and repair the grid as soon as it's safe.
Duke Energy Florida has mobilized about 8 000 lineworkers  tree professionals  damage assessment and...
Duke Energy Florida has mobilized about 8,000 lineworkers, tree professionals, damage assessment and support personnel to safe locations.
Duke Energy Florida
Duke Energy expects one million outages
In a press release this afternoon, Duke Energy Florida said it estimated one million of its customers could lose power associated with damages from Hurricane Irma. Duke Energy serves 1.8 million customers in Florida.
"Based on Hurricane Irma's current track, we expect all of our Florida service area to feel the effects of this powerful storm," said Luis Ordaz, Duke Energy Florida storm director. "We will be working as quickly and safely as possible until all customers are restored. We want to thank all of our customers ahead of time for their patience."
The energy company has mobilized 8,000 line workers, tree professionals, damage assessment and support personnel to safe locations. They will be prepared to respond to outages once it is safe to do so. Duke Energy is also bringing 1,500 additional workers from locations in the Midwest to support restoration efforts.
More about Hurricane Irma, Florida, Duke energy, FLP, Power outages
 
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