FPL Upgrading Energy Grid Serving Melbourne, Strengthens Reliability and Storm Preparedness Effort
By Florida Power & Light Company // May 21, 2020
FPL has Strengthened 24 main lines, Reviewed 2,816 miles of power line
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA — Florida Power & Light Company continues to upgrade its system in the Melbourne area as part of its ongoing work to strengthen the energy grid and improve the reliability of its service for customers.
Company investments, which include strengthening power lines and poles, trimming trees near power lines and installing smart grid technology, help make the grid more reliable day-to-day and speed restoration efforts following major storms.
“We continue to build one of the nation’s strongest, smartest and most storm-resilient energy grids using advanced smart grid technology to continue delivering reliable electricity that our customers can count on,” said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL.
“Last year, FPL customers experienced record-setting electric service reliability, in part due to smart devices, and we will continue to use emerging technology to find innovative ways to deliver cleaner energy while keeping costs 30% below the national average.”
2020 IMPROVEMENTS IN THE MELBOURNE AREA
During this year, FPL plans to make the following improvements in and near Melbourne:
• Strengthening 11 main power lines, including those that serve critical services that are necessary for communities to recover faster after major storms
• Inspecting and clearing tree branches and vegetation — a major cause of power outages — from 256 miles of power lines
• As of this year, will have inspected 81% of power poles in the city over the past eight-year inspection cycle, strengthening or replacing those that no longer meet FPL’s standards
• Installing smart grid technology, including 246 automated switches on main and neighborhood power lines to help detect problems and restore service faster when outages occur
• Inspecting four main power lines and equipment using infrared technology to detect issues before they cause a power interruption
When the planned 2020 work is completed, FPL will have made the following improvements in and near Melbourne since the historic 2004-2005 hurricane seasons:
• Strengthened 24 main power lines, including those that serve critical services
• Reviewed 2,816 miles of power lines, clearing an average of 201 miles of tree branches and vegetation per year
• Inspected all 21,972 power poles every eight years
• Installed smart grid technology, including 1,889 automated switches on main and neighborhood power lines
• Inspected 115 main power lines and equipment using infrared technology
The Storm Protection Plan that FPL filed recently with the Florida Public Service Commission is a continuation of the existing comprehensive hardening programs that the company has undertaken for nearly 15 years.
These programs have benefited customers by successfully reducing restoration costs and outage times during major storms, as well as improving day-to-day service reliability.
FPL’s Storm Protection Plan also builds on the company’s long-standing track record of building America’s strongest and smartest energy grid while keeping customers’ bills among the lowest in the country.
“FPL is a national leader in the reliability of service to its customers, but we’re never satisfied,” said Manny Miranda, senior vice president of power delivery for FPL.
“We continue to implement projects that have demonstrated their value to our customers while looking at the latest technology and lessons learned from past storms to develop new ways of enhancing the reliability of our service.”
Strengthening the FPL grid throughout Florida
Since 2006, FPL has invested over $5 billion, as well as ongoing maintenance and improvement work, to make the energy grid stronger and smarter. This includes:
• Hardening more than 99% of main power lines serving critical community facilities and services, such as police and fire stations, hospitals and 911 centers
• Installing more than 5 million smart meters and more than 120,000 intelligent devices along the energy grid using advanced technology that helps detect problems and restore service faster if outages occur
• Reviewing about 15,000 miles of power lines each year and trimming and removing vegetation where necessary to keep lines clear and help prevent outages
• Completing one full inspection of the company’s 1.2 million power poles and upgrading or replacing those that no longer meet FPL’s standards for strength (approximately 150,000 poles inspected annually); and already starting the next 8-year inspection cycle
Last year, the company announced an investment of $2 billion to harden its main power lines and replace all remaining wooden transmission structures with steel or concrete.
By the end of 2022, FPL expects that all of its transmission structures will be steel or concrete.
FPL was named the winner of the 2019 ReliabilityOne National Reliability Excellence Award presented by PA Consulting.
This is the fourth time in five years that the company has received the national award for providing superior service reliability to the more than 10 million customers across Florida that it serves.
FPL will also continue its Storm Secure Underground Program, a three-year pilot to find cost-effective ways to replace overhead power lines with more reliable underground lines in select neighborhoods to further enhance customers’ service and the energy grid’s resiliency.
The pilot targets neighborhoods that experienced an outage during Hurricanes Matthew and/or Irma and have a history of outages caused primarily by vegetation, which in Florida grows year-round.
To date, 35 neighborhoods have participated in underground power lines.
Historically, reliability results indicate that, on average, customers served by underground main power lines tend to have fewer outages compared to overhead main power lines. Nearly 50 PERCENT of FPL’s 68,000 miles of distribution power lines are already underground.