Lights still out for 6.1 million USA customers after Irma: utilities

Danny Woods
September 13, 2017

Irma was downgraded to a tropical storm on Monday, but is still expected to bring damaging winds and flooding rain as it passes across Georgia toward Alabama and Carolinas. According to a press release, crews from Louisiana arrived Monday evening, and more would be coming Tuesday.

It may not seem like it if you sweated through the night and are anxious about food supplies, but power is coming back online in South Florida as the region begins its recovery after Hurricane Irma. Customers should expect prolonged and perhaps multiple power outages during the storm, the company said.

On Florida's harder-hit Gulf Coast, FPL estimates power restoration could wrap up by September 22.

The company is restoring power with a record-high workforce of almost 19,500 people, including crews, trucks and equipment from across the USA and Canada.

More than 60,000 workers from across the United States and Canada were involved in the restoration efforts, including those from the affected companies and other utilities, said Tom Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute, an industry trade group.

FPL said it was still assessing the damage and could not yet say when it would restore service to most customers.

Florida Power and Light contractors worked to restore power to a neighborhood in Southwest Miami-Dade County on Monday afternoon.

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The state's gas supplies were severely disrupted before and during the storm as ports were closed, cutting Florida off from waterborne deliveries the state relies on.

Irma, which ranked among the most powerful storms in the Atlantic, has nevertheless tested those systems.

That surcharge was capped at around $4 per month for the average residential customer, according to NextEra's 2016 annual report.

Gould said there would be a daily briefing from the company.

Florida's Division of Emergency Management reported Tuesday morning that 5 million customers didn't have electricity.

At Gulf Power, a Southern Co. unit that serves just over 455,000 in northwest Florida, spokesman Rick DelaHaya said Monday that the brunt of Irma was just starting to arrive in that region.

FPL officials declined to disclose when they would power up three of its nuclear reactors - one at the St. Lucie plant on South Hutchinson Island in Fort Pierce and both at Turkey Point plant, south of Miami - which were shut down before and after Irma struck.

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