Florida Power & Light Company is working this summer to clear vegetation from more than 130 miles of power lines and will use advanced infrared technology to examine seven main power lines in and near Bradenton to try to prevent power outages during summer storms and to ensure that power is restored faster in the case of outages.
It's all part of an initiative designed to strengthen the electric infrastructure and improve service reliability in Manatee County. FPL customers can visit www.FPL.com/maps and enter their street address to see a detailed map of electrical improvements in their neighborhoods. This online tool shows the system improvements – including pole inspections, line clearing, power line strengthening and power line inspections.
“FPL has the most reliable service of any investor-owned utility in Florida and ranks among the very best in the nation," said FPL External Affairs Manager Rae Dowling. “While no utility can ever be completely interruption-proof, we’re working hard every day to provide our customers with electric service they can count on."
FPL is touting its upgrades and accomplishments as it waits for the state's Public Service Commission to rule on a requested rate increase. Commissioners will rule next month on whether to increase, partially increase, maintain or decrease rates. If FPL's request is fully approved, rates could increase 16 percent for homes.
Including the ongoing improvements, since 2006 FPL has:
- Upgraded equipment and strengthened the main power lines serving community and critical facilities such as hospitals, 911 operations, police stations and community thoroughfares on Manatee Avenue West and Cortez Road. FPL has completed strengthening the electric infrastructure serving every existing major hospital and acute care facility in its service territory as well as virtually all originally identified 911 facilities and emergency operations centers.
- Inspected more than 16,000 utility poles in and near Bradenton for strength and reinforcing or replacing them as necessary.
- Cleared vegetation along more than 870 miles of power lines in Bradenton. Tree limbs, palm fronds and other vegetation that come into contact with power lines are a common cause of power outages and flickers.
- Inspected 30 main power lines and equipment in and near Bradenton using advanced infrared technology to detect and address issues unseen by the naked eye before they become problems or outages.
Following the 2004–2005 hurricane seasons that saw seven storms in a 15-month period, Florida called on all utility companies to maintain a high level of storm preparation. FPL, the largest rate-regulated electric utility in Florida, embarked on a series of improvements to strengthen its electric infrastructure to better withstand the impact of severe weather. The work is also designed to reduce customer outages.
From 2006 to 2011, FPL invested more than $900 million to strengthen the electric grid against major storms, keep service reliability high as well as speed up service restoration time when outages occur.