FPL Strengthens Electric Grid for Palm Bay

FPL upgrades Palm Bay electric grid ahead of storm season.
FPL upgrades Palm Bay electric grid ahead of storm season.

PALM BAY, Florida – Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) said they have upgraded its system in the Palm Bay area as part of its ongoing work to strengthen the energy grid and improve service reliability for Brevard County customers.

Company investments, which include strengthening power lines and poles, trimming trees near power lines and installing smart grid technology, help make the grid more reliable day-to-day and speed restoration efforts following a major storm.

“We continue to build a stronger and smarter electric grid to provide our customers with reliable service year-round,” said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. “Our ongoing investments in FPL’s energy grid and advanced smart grid technology help us deliver electricity our customers can count on in good weather and bad. This was evident during our restoration efforts after recent hurricanes, including Hurricane Irma, during which we responded quickly, considering the size and scope of the storm and compared to Hurricane Wilma – the last major storm to affect our service area.”

FPL’s investments to the grid proved its benefits to customers by speeding the restoration efforts following Hurricane Irma. About 95 percent of customers had their power restored within seven days after the storm’s passing compared to 15 days after 2005’s Hurricane Wilma.

Hardened or strengthened main power lines withstood the storm’s impact better than those that were not hardened. For example, a fraction of the number of poles was damaged in Hurricane Irma compared to Hurricane Wilma. Smart grid technology-enabled customers to avoid approximately 546,000 outages during the storm.

Strengthened power lines perform approximately 40 percent better than non-strengthened lines, improving everyday reliability throughout the year and speeding restoration efforts during severe weather such as summer thunderstorms.

2018 improvements in the Palm Bay area

When the planned 2018 work is completed, FPL will have made the following improvements in and near Palm Bay since 2006:

  • Strengthened 11 main power lines, including those that serve critical services, such as the city’s wastewater treatment plant and Palm Bay Hospital, that are necessary for communities to recover faster after a storm;
  • Cleared tree branches and vegetation — a major cause of power outages — from 3,568 miles of power lines, an average of 297 miles every year;
  • Inspected all 37,142 power poles every eight years, strengthening or replacing those that no longer meet FPL’s standards for strength;
  • Installed smart grid technology, including 1,718 switches on main and neighborhood power lines to help detect problems and restore service faster when outages occur; and
  • Inspected 88 main power lines and equipment using infrared technology to detect issues before they cause a power interruption.

“FPL has the most reliable service of any energy company in Florida, but we’re never satisfied,” said Manny Miranda, senior vice president of power delivery for FPL. “We’re working hard every day to provide our customers within the Palm Bay area with electric service they can count on. This includes several new improvement projects in the area, including the St. John’s River Water Management Center, the Christa McAuliffe Elementary School and the CVS Pharmacy on Emerson Drive.”

Strengthening the FPL grid throughout Florida

Since 2006, FPL has invested more than $3 billion, as well as ongoing maintenance and improvement work, to make the energy grid stronger and smarter. This includes:

  • Strengthening 860 main power lines, including those that serve critical community facilities and services, such as hospitals, police and fire stations and other services necessary for communities to recover after a storm;
  • Clearing vegetation — a major cause of power outages — from more than 15,000 miles of power lines annually;
  • Inspecting the company’s 1.2 million power poles every eight years, and upgrading or replacing those that no longer meet our standards for strength; and
  • Installing 4.9 million smart meters and 90,000 intelligent devices along the energy grid using advanced technology that helps detect problems and restore service faster when outages occur.

Florida Power & Light Company is the third-largest electric utility in the United States, serving nearly 5 million customer accounts or an estimated 10 million+ people across nearly half of the state of Florida.

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Andy Hodges began his career in the field of radio and TV broadcasting where he worked for about a decade. The Jupiter, Florida resident then pursued computers as they were coming to market in the late 1980’s. Andy has owned a computer business, been a software programmer, and has worked as a Senior Systems Analyst/Engineer in the Information Technology sector in Atlanta. He eventually returned to the area in 2002. Andy is also the Editor-in-Chief for Sebastian Daily.
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