When Florida Power & Light Company mounts a restoration effort in the wake of a tropical storm or hurricane, we now have new tools to help us restore power to our customers more efficiently, thanks to smart meters.
“Pinging the meter” during Tropical Storm Isaac
Tropical Storm Isaac brought more than high winds, floods and power outages to South Florida. The late August storm also provided an opportunity for FPL to use smart meter technology in a new way to help our customers.
As Isaac approached Collier County in southwest Florida, emergency management officials there issued a “voluntary precautionary” evacuation for some of its vulnerable areas. A local high school doubled as a shelter for approximately 35 people with special medical needs who opted to ride out the storm at the school. After danger passed, the Collier County Health & Human Services representatives asked FPL employees supporting the Collier County emergency management center whether they could confirm that power was on in the homes of the people before they were transported back.
That’s where FPL’s smart meter technology came in.
Smart meters use wireless technology to communicate with FPL over a secure network. FPL can send a signal to the meter from a central location to make sure the meter is receiving electric current—a process informally referred to as “pinging the meter.”
FPL was able to “ping” the meters of the customers in Collier County to confirm that they had power.
The smart meter feature was employed again when another band of severe weather passed through the area and interrupted service while several evacuees were still in-transit from the shelter to their homes. FPL was able to use smart meter technology to identify an outage at one of their homes.
The bus driver transporting the group changed his route to delay dropping off the customer whose home had lost power while FPL’s crews restored power to the home. Once again, we were able to confirm that the home had power by “pinging” the meter before the resident returned home.
Confirming power restoration during Hurricane Sandy
As Hurricane Sandy moved along the east coast of Florida, FPL employees from Miami to Daytona were able to ping meters and use advanced smart grid technology to confirm when customers’ power was restored and identify any customers who were still out of service. These tools provide us with a higher level of confidence that we have restored service to our customers before our restoration specialists leave the area. That enables us to redirect those crews to other areas more quickly and speed restoration.
This is a great example of how we were able to use smart meter technology to better serve our customers in a very unique situation. Smart meters are an essential part of a more modern, reliable and efficient electric system, which is helping us better predict and prevent outages and, when outages do occur, identify them faster and more accurately so we can speed restoration.