Florida Power & Light Company continue to strengthen and modernize energy grids in light of COVID-19 pandemic

BREVARD COUNTY — With a named tropical storm on the horizon, Brevard County residents are familiar with the routine preparations needed for when a storm hits.

Florida Power & Light Company has been steadily making improvements in the Melbourne and Palm Bay areas as part of its three-year Storm Secure Underground pilot program.

“We’ve been strengthening our grid to make it more storm resilient and smarter with smart technology,” said Marie Bertot, FPL spokesperson. “In 2005, 2006, we had a horrible hurricane season, it was so active. Hurricane Wilma just caused so much damage. At that moment we began a program to harden our system.”

Since 2005-2006, FPL has invested $5 billion to make the grid stronger, smarter and storm-resistant. These improvements have proven to be effective.

During Hurricane Irma, all of FPL substations were up and running within a day, whereas with Hurricane Wilma it took five days to be restored.

Substations take the power that comes from power plants through transmission lines, Ms. Bertot explained, and decreased the voltage so that it’s safe to distribute to neighborhoods.

If a substation is out, a whole neighborhood is out.

“A fraction of the number of poles were damaged during Irma compared to 12,400 poles during Wilma,” Ms. Bertot said. “This is directly due to FPL’s hardening investments.”

Melbourne

According to officials, during 2020, FPL has been working to make the following improvements in and near Melbourne:

· Strengthening 11 main power lines, including those that serve critical services that are necessary for communities to recover faster after major storms

· Inspecting and clearing tree branches and vegetation — a major cause of power outages — from 256 miles of power lines

· As of this year, will have inspected 81% of power poles in the city over the past eight-year inspection cycle, strengthening or replacing those that no longer meet FPL’s standards

· Installing smart grid technology, including 246 automated switches on main and neighborhood power lines to help detect problems and restore service faster when outages occur

· Inspecting four main power lines and equipment using infrared technology to detect issues before they cause a power interruption

When the planned 2020 work is complete, the following improvements will have been made since the 2004-2005 hurricane seasons:

· Strengthened 24 main power lines, including those that serve critical services

· Reviewed 2,816 miles of power lines, clearing an average of 201 miles of tree branches and vegetation per year

· Inspected all 21,972 power poles every eight years

· Installed smart grid technology, including 1,889 automated switches on main and neighborhood power lines

· Inspected 115 main power lines and equipment using infrared technology

Palm Bay

In the areas in and near Palm Bay, FPL plans to make the following improvements in 2020:

• Strengthening six main power lines, including those that serve critical services that are necessary for communities to recover faster after major storms

• Inspecting and clearing tree branches and vegetation — a major cause of power outages — from 445 miles of power lines

• As of this year, will have inspected 76% of power poles in the city over the past eight-year inspection cycle, strengthening or replacing those that no longer meet FPL’s standards

• Installing smart grid technology, 119 automated switches on main and neighborhood power lines to help detect problems and restore service faster when outages occur

• Inspecting five main power lines and equipment using infrared technology to detect issues before they cause a power interruption

By the end of 2020, the following improvements will have been made since the 2004-2005 hurricane seasons:

• Strengthened 17 main power lines, including those that serve critical services

• Reviewed 3,784 miles of power lines, clearing an average 270 miles of tree branches and vegetation per year

• Inspected all 38,398 power poles every eight years

• Installed smart grid technology, including 2,393 automated switches on main and neighborhood power lines

• Inspected 102 main power lines and equipment using infrared technology

Ahead of the curve

Many homes now have smart meters installed on the property, which can communicate to FPL when the power goes out.

“Before we installed smart meters you would have to call the electric company to say your power is out,” Ms. Bertot said. “Then we would have to make the ticket and investigate it. Now, we know when your power is out and sometimes we know before your power is out and we’re already working to restore it thanks to smart technology.”

Ms. Bertot added that smart switches can detect when there is a fault in the power line and it can re-direct power. In some cases, power outages can be avoided or make less of an impact on affected homes.

During Hurricane Irma, before it was safe for trucks to roll out because the winds were still high, FPL was able to restore power to 546,000 customers.

FPL is also able to install underground power lines without affecting customer’s properties but also makes the energy grid more reliable.

For the latest updates, visit www.FPL.com.

Associate Managing Editor

I have been a Viera resident for 15 years and a writer my whole life. I love to travel when the opportunity presents itself, as well as try new things.

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