Florida Power & Light Co. recently outlined its electric system upgrades in the West Palm Beach area being made as part of the company’s overall 2016-18 storm hardening plan.
The enhancements, which have helped FPL achieve the best system reliability in Florida (and 50 percent better than the national average), will position the company to deliver even more reliable electric service for customers year-round.
The company plans to invest $1.75 billion systemwide over the next three years on the improvements, on top of $2 billion spent across its 35-county area — in addition to ongoing system maintenance and improvement work — to make the energy grid stronger and smarter.
Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL, promised a “more resilient energy grid.”
“Our customers are already seeing the benefits of strengthened power lines, with hardened lines showing, on average, a 40 percent improvement in everyday performance,” he said.
Improvements within the statewide plan include the completion of hardening main power lines serving critical community facilities, upgrading main power lines across FPL’s service area, initiating upgrades of smaller neighborhood power lines and continuing to replace wooden transmission line structures with steel and concrete towers. FPL will also continue to deploy tens of thousands of intelligent devices and smart switches, on top of 36,000 installed to date, to help detect and predict problems and restore service faster when outages occur.
This year’s investment includes upgrades to nine main power lines serving key facilities in West Palm Beach. The projects strengthen the electric system to better withstand major storms and allow for faster service restoration following power outages by installing stronger power poles, including concrete poles designed to withstand wind gusts of up to 145 mph.
“FPL is continuing to invest in building a stronger and smarter grid that our customers in West Palm Beach can count on year-round,” said Manny Miranda, senior vice president of power delivery for FPL. “For example, we’re upgrading the system supplying energy to Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue and Palm Beach International Airport. This not only allows us to restore power to our customers faster, but it aids in getting life back to normal quicker when customers need us the most.”
FPL will also install 23 automated switches on main power lines and 13 automated switches on smaller power lines serving neighborhoods and subdivisions. The automated devices detect and prevent potential problems along the energy grid, as well as restore and reroute power, when necessary, to reduce the number of customers affected by an outage.
When the planned 2016 work is completed, FPL will have made the following improvements in the West Palm Beach area since 2006:
• Strengthened 20 main power lines, including those serving critical local facilities. For example, in West Palm Beach, these include Palm Beach International Airport, the Palm Beach County Convention Center, St. Mary’s Medical Center, Good Samaritan Medical Center, West Palm Hospital and two 911 emergency communications centers;
• Inspected 23,110 power poles, restoring or replacing those that no longer meet the company’s standards for strength;
• Cleared 1,970 miles of power lines of trees and vegetation;
• Inspected 110 main power lines and equipment using the latest infrared technology, helping FPL address issues before they cause outages; and
• Installed smart grid technology, including 50 automated switches on main lines and 442 automated switches on smaller lines, to help detect and prevent power issues.