FPL to strengthen Florida's electric grid in preparation for hurricanes

As part of its annual company-wide hurricane season preparedness drill, Florida Power & Light Co. announced a three-year plan to continue and accelerate the strengthening of its electric system against high winds associated with hurricanes and other major weather events.

FPL expects to invest about half a billion dollars over the next three years to continue to improve the overall resiliency of the electric system for customers.

The plan builds on the utility's storm hardening initiative by incorporating additional lessons learned from Superstorm Sandy, such as those related to flooding, as well as from Florida storm activity in 2012.

These recent experiences show that electric infrastructure that has been strengthened performs better in preventing some storm-related outages, speeding restoration times following severe weather and delivering better overall everyday reliability.

The accelerated hardening effort will translate both into faster outage restoration during major storms and improved everyday reliability for customers. FPL's experience with the recent tropical storms shows main power lines that have been hardened are roughly half as likely to experience an outage during severe weather. In addition, under normal weather conditions, hardening a power line reduces the frequency of daily outages by up to 40 percent.

Under FPL's 2013-2015 Electric Infrastructure Storm Hardening Plan, filed with the Florida Public Service Commission May 1, the company expects to invest in the range of $428 million to $646 million over the next three years to continue to improve the overall resiliency of the electric system for customers. Because FPL is operating under a four-year rate agreement, this plan does not impact customer rates during the three-year period of the investments.

FPL plans to continue this effort by strengthening poles and equipment serving about 250 to 370 critical facilities and community needs in 2013 through 2015 — with the goal of completing all critical and community-need hardening throughout its territory in 2016, several years earlier than FPL's 2010-2012 plan.

Beginning in 2013, FPL is accelerating this ongoing program with plans to replace an estimated 1,100 to 1,600 transmission structures per year through 2015 and complete replacement of all ceramic posts on concrete structures by the end of 2014.

As part of initiatives arising from lessons learned from Superstorm Sandy, FPL plans to install real-time, water-level monitoring systems to help anticipate challenges that could result from flooding at 25 substations located below the Federal Emergency Management Agency's 100-year flood elevations.

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