Florida Power & Light Company has filed its annual reliability report with the Florida Public Service Commission. The report indicates that absent any hurricanes, the company expects service reliability to be further enhanced in 2007 through its Storm Secure program and its comprehensive annual reliability and maintenance programs.
"Reliability is at the core of everything we do for our customers. Today, we have in place a comprehensive and wide ranging group of reliability programs that are making a difference in the quality of service experienced by our customers," said Geisha J. Williams, FPL vice president for distribution. "If we do not see any hurricanes this year, we expect our service reliability to be further enhanced in 2007, as we implement all our programs."
Reliability: Better than National Average
Each year, the Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC) requires electric utility companies in the state to report on the reliability of their service the previous year. Overall, in 2006, FPL customers experienced reliability levels that were significantly better than the national average. In 2006, the average number of minutes an FPL customer was without power was 74.3 minutes or about four and a half minutes higher than the average reliability level FPL reported in 2005. This is still 45 percent better than the most recent industry reported average of 134.8 minutes.
In 2006, reliability improved overall for FPL customers in areas that were not affected by the hurricanes of the 2005 season. The majority of increases in outage time of hurricane-affected areas are attributed to the significant damage Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma caused to FPL facilities. The residual impact produced by the hurricanes triggered a higher number of outages. Reliability in these hurricane-affected areas dipped in the first five months of the year and returned to average pre-storm performance levels after completion of permanent repairs to bring the system back to FPL standards.
2006 Storm Secure Improvements
Storm Secure, a comprehensive program to strengthen the electrical grid and make it more resilient against future hurricanes, was launched in 2006 by FPL. The company devoted more than 30,000 man hours to this effort and hardened critical infrastructure facilities located at Port Everglades (Broward County), the Port of Palm Beach and St. Mary's Hospital (Palm Beach County), and Jackson Memorial Hospital and Mt. Sinai Medical Center (Miami-Dade County).
The company has invested significant resources as part of its eight-year pole inspection program. Specifically, FPL has inspected 96,000 of its more than 1 million distribution poles. In addition, the company cleared vegetation from 11,000 miles of power lines, including 4,300 miles of mid-cycle trimmings of "hot spots" where fast-growing trees threaten to intrude on wiring. FPL inspected 16 percent of its wood transmission structures and 45 percent of its concrete or steel structures, including 100 percent of its 500 kV structures in 2006.
2007 Plan of Action
2007 Storm Secure plans call for hardening main lines that serve 28 acute-care health facilities and an additional 34 main lines that serve major thoroughfares with community services such as grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations. The utility is also retrofitting overhead circuit highway crossings starting with I-75 and the Florida Turnpike in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties to make them more storm-resilient. Other initiatives include:
-- Pole Inspections - In 2007 the company will inspect an average of more than 500 poles per work day and complete 127,000 pole inspections. FPL estimates spending $32 to $42 million in 2007, the first full year of pole inspection, reinforcement and replacement under the new eight year pole inspection program.
-- Vegetation Management - FPL plans to spend $65 million on vegetation management as it continues trimming vegetation every three years around main lines and beginning a new six-year cycle on average on lateral (neighborhood) lines. In 2007, FPL's vegetation management budget has increased more than $15 million over 2006 and it is approximately 65 percent higher than in 2005.
-- Transmission Structure Inspections - Starting last year, FPL implemented a six year inspection and hardening program for transmission structures that will allow it to inspect nearly 17 percent of its transmission structures every year and replace wood structures with concrete poles.
-- Research - FPL is engaged in collaborative research with other utilities to study the effects of hurricane winds and storm surge to better equip these systems. A permanent post-storm forensic team has been established to analyze damage to the electrical system and improve grid design and equipment.
-- Thermovision - The company has also invested in state of the art technology, called Thermovision, which allows the detection of potentially faulty equipment through an infrared inspection of overhead power lines. Through Thermovision the company can replace equipment before it causes a power interruption. Approximately 25 percent of main lines or 4,400 miles of lines are inspected annually through the Thermovision program.
"FPL is committed to a strong and reliable power delivery system. Reliability is important to us and to our customers, their families, and the communities we serve," said Williams. "Our goal is to work every day at improving the performance of our system."