Our crews are out in force, working to get your lights back on
In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, we’re working around the clock to get the lights back on across Florida. Today, I visited Southwest Florida, which faced the brunt of the storm’s wrath, to meet with local officials and see firsthand the extent of the damage from Irma and how restoration efforts are progressing.
Based on Irma’s strength and magnitude, we anticipated that much of the electric system in Southwest Florida would require a complete rebuild. What I saw today certainly validated Irma’s intensity, but more importantly, confirmed that our restoration efforts are proving successful, with thousands of customers being restored every hour.
As I traveled through the region, I saw that most outages were caused by trees and debris blowing onto our lines, not due to severe damage to our electric system. It’s a great sign that the investments we have been making in a stronger, smarter grid are paying off. Our equipment and smart grid advancements are helping our army of more than 21,500 personnel get power back on faster for all of our customers impacted by Irma.
Today, I met with officials and Emergency Operations Center leaders in Collier, Lee and Charlotte counties to discuss restoration efforts. In Fort Myers, I stopped at a school where fallen vegetation had taken out one of our primary power lines, and watched the crew carefully cut the vegetation back, restore the line and re-energize the school. I also visited the Charlotte County airport, which is a temporary home base for thousands of personnel working around the clock on restoration.
For perspective, my team looked back at where we were in restoring power in October 2005 after Hurricane Wilma, and the difference is striking. So far, we have been restoring power about four times more quickly than we did after Wilma. We’ve restored approximately 55 percent of outages in the first 48 hours since Irma cleared Florida. At this same point after Hurricane Wilma, we had only restored about 13 percent of outages.
A quick update on estimated times of restoration: We’re restoring thousands of people every hour, and we currently estimate that power will be restored to all FPL customers in counties on the eastern side of the state by end of day, Sept. 17. In Southwest Florida, where the damage is the most extensive, work is taking longer, and we currently estimate that restoration will be complete by end of day, Sept. 22. Exceptions to these estimates are possible in areas impacted by tornadoes, severe flooding and other extreme conditions.
You have my commitment that we won’t stop working until all of our customers have their power restored. Thank you for your patience, encouragement and support during this challenging time.