Florida Power & Light Co. plans to invest more than $200 million in 2012 to strengthen the electric grid against major storms and keep service reliability high, the company said in an annual filing with the Florida Public Service Commission.
"We're working hard to provide the best overall value of any electric utility in the country. Our typical residential customer bill is the lowest out of the 55 electric utilities in Florida and well below the national average. Our service reliability is among the very best in the country. Our clean energy profile is among the best in the country and our customer care organization has received national recognition for eight years in a row. We know we're not perfect, but every day we strive for improvement because we know that how well we perform matters to our customers. Continuous improvement is a core value for us," said FPL President Eric Silagy.
In 2012, FPL is continuing to invest in efforts to strengthen the infrastructure against severe weather and maintain its strong everyday reliability. In 2011, FPL continued to take significant steps to strengthen its electrical infrastructure and to enhance its emergency response capabilities. Included in this ongoing work were pole inspections, system infrastructure hardening, vegetation management as well as other storm preparedness initiatives. FPL continued its trend of delivering excellent overall reliable service for its customers.
Pole inspections: In 2012, the company plans to inspect 137,000 distribution poles and reinforce or replace those that no longer meet the company's stringent standards for strength. FPL also plans to begin a new six-year cycle of inspections of its transmission structures and complete any and all remaining follow-up work identified during the 2011 inspections. In 2011, FPL replaced more than 10,000 utility poles after inspecting them for strength. This includes poles along local (distribution) and main (transmission) lines.
System hardening: In 2012, FPL will continue strengthening projects for feeders (main lines) that serve critical infrastructure facilities such as hospitals and 911 centers and important community needs such as grocery stores, gas stations and pharmacies, as well as for major highway crossings. In 2011, FPL completed the strengthening of its electric infrastructure serving virtually every existing 911 and emergency operations center in its service territory as well as other critical facilities identified with the help of local community leaders.
Storm preparedness: In 2012, FPL will continue its approved cycle plans to clear more than 12,000 miles of vegetation from its distribution lines and clear all of its transmission rights of way. In 2011, FPL executed its robust line clearing plan and was able to clear additional fast-growing trees that were most likely to cause interruptions before the next scheduled trimming cycle.
In addition, FPL conducts extensive training for employees, focusing on restoring power after a storm. Each May, FPL simulates a major hurricane for the purpose of a company-wide storm drill to strengthen its storm-response plans.
FPL's long-term, comprehensive plan to improve its infrastructure is yielding consistent results for customers.
In 2011, FPL continued to provide strong overall reliability. In fact, FPL has reduced the average number of service interruptions for customers by approximately 15 percent since 2007.