FPL announced yesterday that it has spent $2 billion over the last ten years preparing the electrical grid for hurricanes like Matthew, which is forecast to hit South Florida today. That includes reinforcing more than 600 main power lines, burying power lines, and cutting branches around 135,000 miles of power lines. About 1.4 million poles have been inspected and upgraded or replaced as needed.
The company also has 12,000 workers ready to respond in South Florida.
And the company placed robocalls to three million customers last night. They advise you to call 1-800-468-8243 for updates on power outages — that is, if your phone has power.
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The company says some customers will likely experience more than one outage throughout the duration of the storm. "We understand the anxiety many of our customers are feeling at this moment and want to reassure them that we're ready to respond," said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. "We're deploying more resources prestorm than ever before."
Here are the company's recommendations for dealing with the outage that is almost sure to affect your house in the next day or so if you live in Broward or Palm Beach.
- Prepare to be without power and keep a battery-operated radio on hand with a supply of fresh batteries.
- Record your FPL account number in a location that will be readily available. By knowing your account number, you will be able to quickly access your account online at FPL.com. Also, have their phone number (1-800-4OUTAGE or 1-800-468-8243) handy in the event you need to call to obtain information through their automated system.
- If someone in your home is dependent on electric-powered, life-sustaining medical equipment, review your family emergency plan for backup power or make arrangements to relocate when a storm warning is issued.
- If you plan to use a ladder while preparing your home for the storm, note the location of power lines before you begin. Be sure ladders or scaffolds are far enough away so that you – and the ends of the tools you're using – stay at least ten feet away from power lines. Before lowering a TV antenna or satellite dish, make sure to turn off and unplug the TV.
- Most counties suspend trash and debris pickup before a storm. Please do not trim trees now, as high winds can turn cut branches into dangerous flying debris. If you already have trimmed trees, however, please help to prevent outages by tying down or securing loose branches or other debris.
- Adjust refrigerators and freezers to their coldest settings ahead of time to keep food fresher longer in the event of a power outage.
- Don't venture out in the dark because you might not see a downed power line that could be energized and dangerous; avoid standing water and debris.
- If you see a downed power line, call 911 and 1-800-4OUTAGE (1-800-468-8243). Stay away from all power lines.
The company, by the way, has requested a 23 percent rate increase starting in 2019. That means the average bill would jump from $57 to $70 per month. Politically, this storm comes at a pretty good time.