In preparation for the 2015 hurricane season, Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL) hosted a "staging site" drill at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla. More than 900 employees simulated what would be a massive logistical response to a major hurricane, including the deployment of thousands of workers and associated equipment.
"Today's staging site drill is yet another visible demonstration of how FPL prepares year-round to safely and quickly restore power when a major event, such as a major hurricane, impacts our customers' lives," said Manny Miranda, vice president of power delivery for FPL. "These employee-focused exercises are key elements of our power restoration plan, providing our team with the hands-on experience that is necessary when restoring power in the wake of such an event."
Gulfstream Park is a designated "staging site" — one of 90 expansive, strategic locations across the state where FPL can base utility crews, support staff and equipment as part of an outage restoration effort. The site has been used during prior events, including hurricanes Wilma, Frances and Jeanne.
Staging sites operate like mini-cities. It takes a virtual army of crews, including thousands from out of state, to augment the FPL team and restore power following a major hurricane. Staging sites allow FPL to position restoration crews closer to affected areas in order to restore service to customers as quickly as possible and help get communities back on their feet.
During this week's drill, storm restoration specialists participated in damage briefings, received work assignments and prepared convoys for deployment throughout the area.
This year's hurricane season, beginning June 1, also marks the 10th anniversary of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, which affected millions of FPL customers. Since the 2005 storm season, FPL has invested more than $2 billion to strengthen the electric grid against severe weather, including inspecting more than 1.2 million power poles and strengthening the poles and wires that serve critical facilities in our communities. The company also has installed 4.7 million smart meters and thousands of intelligent devices throughout its system to help reduce the number of outages and restore service faster when outages do occur.
"We all must safeguard against complacency, particularly where it concerns hurricanes," said Miranda. "At FPL, we've worked hard to put ourselves in the best possible position to respond to severe weather and we never stop working to improve. We know that it's not a question of if, but when a hurricane will strike. While we have made significant investments in our electric system, we know there still will be power outages following a major storm. Just as we continue to prepare and plan, we encourage our customers to do the same — make a storm plan now for their families and businesses."