The Aug. 29 editorial, Let’s call it a drill, stated, “Hopefully, the utility company will use what one Miami Beach resident called ‘a nothing storm’ to identify the trouble spots and make them more secure” and suggested that “longstanding outages are not the way to win friends or influence the Public Service Commission to grant that rate increase FPL has requested.”
To our customers who were inconvenienced by an outage associated with Isaac, and especially any customer who experienced an extended outage, I apologize. I recognize how difficult and frustrating it is to be without electricity. At FPL, we are committed to providing our customers with the best value possible, combining the lowest bills in the state of Florida with the best reliability.
As much as we wish it could be so, no utility can be completely storm proof. What The Herald dismisses as a “nothing storm” involved up to 18 inches of rain — a 100-year event — wind gusts exceeding 60 miles per hour and at least one confirmed tornado in our service territory over roughly 48 hours. Tropical force winds extended more than 200 miles and bands of violent weather extended over 500 miles. Some of the most severe weather came through the tri-county area.
Since the memorable storm seasons of 2004-2005, we have continued to make prudent investments in strengthening the grid. These investments helped limit Isaac’s impact on our customers and helped us restore power faster. Based on our initial assessment, Isaac caused no damage to facilities that we have strengthened. Statewide, we restored power to more than 96 percent of customers within 24 hours. Forty-three percent had power restored within two hours, 58 percent within four hours and 70 percent within six hours.
To make this possible, we assembled a team of more than 6,000 field workers, including more than 3,700 out-of-state utility workers whom we pre-staged in Florida before the worst of the weather.
To all of these men and women who leave their homes and families to perform hard work under difficult and often dangerous weather conditions, I say thank you. I salute your commitment and your courage. You represent the best our industry has to offer.
Eric Silagy, president, Florida Power & Light Co., Juno Beach