Published On: Mon, Apr 22nd, 2019

Energy grid updates: FPL hardens Boca Raton grid

FPL strengthens energy grid serving Boca Raton as part of 2019 reliability and storm preparedness efforts

-Company continues to make improvements to enhance service reliability for customers in good weather and bad

-FPL introduces new Storm Secure Underground Program, a three-year pilot to underground neighborhood power lines 

Boca Raton, FL — Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) continues to upgrade its system in the Boca Raton area as part of its ongoing work to strengthen the energy grid and improve the reliability of its service for 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 major storms.

“We continue to build one of the nation’s strongest, smartest and most storm-resilient energy grids to provide our customers with reliable service year-round, while keeping our typical residential bills among the lowest in the country,” said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. “Our ongoing investments in strengthening the grid and using advanced smart grid technology continue to help us deliver electricity our customers can count on in good weather and bad. And, over the next three years, we plan on continuing these efforts as they have demonstrated their benefit to customers during everyday operations and helping speed the efforts to restore power during severe weather.”

2019 improvements in the Boca Raton area

During this year, FPL plans to make the following improvements in and near Boca Raton:

  • Strengthening seven main power lines, including those that serve critical services that are necessary for communities to recover faster after major storms
  • Clearing tree branches and vegetation — a major cause of power outages — from 167 miles of power lines
  • Inspecting 1,151 power poles and strengthening or replacing those that no longer meet FPL’s standards for strength
  • Installing smart grid technology, including 12 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 2019 work is completed, FPL will have made the following improvements in and near Boca Raton since the historic 2004-2005 hurricane seasons:

  • Strengthened 21 main power lines, including those that serve critical services
  • Cleared tree branches and vegetation from 1,577 miles of power lines, an average of 121 miles per year
  • Installed smart grid technology, including 777 automated switches on main and neighborhood power lines
  • Inspected 110 main power lines and equipment using infrared technology

As a lesson learned from Hurricane Irma, the company started the Storm Secure Underground Program, a three-year pilot that focuses on using new technologies and processes to find less expensive ways to underground neighborhood power lines, which will further enhance customers’ service reliability and the energy grid’s resiliency. The pilot is focusing on areas that experienced an outage during Hurricanes Matthew and/or Irma, and have a history of outages caused primarily by vegetation, which in Florida grows year-round. This year, 14 projects are planned in Boca Raton.

“FPL is a national leader in the reliability of service to its customers, but we’re never satisfied,” said Manny Miranda, senior vice president of power delivery for FPL. “We continue to implement projects that have demonstrated their value to our customers, while looking at the latest technology and lessons learned from past storms to develop new ways of enhancing the reliability of our service.”

Strengthening the FPL grid throughout Florida

Since 2006, FPL has invested nearly $4 billion, as well as ongoing maintenance and improvement work, to make the energy grid stronger and smarter. This includes:

  • Hardening or undergrounding 98 percent of main power lines, serving critical community functions and services, such as hospitals, fire and police stations, and 911 call centers
  • Clearing vegetation from more than 15,000 miles of power lines annually
  • Inspecting the company’s 1.2 million power poles every eight years
  • Installing more than 5 million smart meters and 110,000 intelligent devices along the energy grid

These energy grid investments benefit customers by enhancing service reliability by more than 30 percent in the past 10 years. In 2018, customers experienced:

  • The lowest average outage duration than ever before
  • The lowest average number of momentaries or flickers

FPL was named the winner of the 2018 ReliabilityOne™ National Reliability Excellence Award presented by PA Consulting. This is the third time in four years that the company has received the national award for providing superior service reliability to the more than 10 million people across Florida that it serves.

The company plans to continue hardening the energy grid over the next three years by investing approximately $2 billion, which includes hardening its main power lines and replacing all remaining wooden transmission structures. By the end of 2022, FPL expects that all of its transmission structures will be steel or concrete. By the end of 2024, the company expects to have hardened or undergrounded all main power lines within its distribution system, including those serving critical and key community facilities.

Hardening means that FPL is installing power poles, which can be a combination of wood and concrete, that will be able to withstand hurricane-force winds. Hardening includes shortening the span between poles by installing additional poles and possibly placing some sections of power lines underground. Hardened power lines perform 40 percent better in day-to-day operations than those power lines that are not hardened, which means fewer outages experienced by customers.

Historically, reliability results indicate that, on average, customers served by underground main power lines tend to have fewer outages compared to overhead main power lines. Nearly 40 percent of FPL’s 68,000 miles of distribution power lines are already underground.

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