Florida Power & Light officials say it could be more than 10 days before power is restored to all customers who are in the dark due to Hurricane Irma.
FP&L spokesperson Rob Gould said restoration to nearly all customers in the eastern half of the state should be completed by Sunday night.
The company expects power to be restored to western Florida — more heavily damaged by the storm — by Sept. 22.
“We understand what it means to be in the dark. We understand what it means to be hot and without air conditioning,” Gould said, according to the News Service of Florida. “We are out there 24-7. This will not be just a daylight operation. We will be restoring power day and night.”
Nearly 4.5 million FP&L customers lost power due to Irma. As of Tuesday morning, power had been restored to about 40 percent of those customers.
FP&L urged customers to not report outages to the company, because its “smart grid” technology alerts them to all outages instantly. It also asked customers to not stop technicians to ask them when service will be restored because it slows down progress.
The company has 20,000 technicians drawn in from more than 30 states and Canada working around the clock to restore power to Floridians. In a press release, the company explained how it prioritizes getting the most customers online in the shortest amount of time:
- We start by repairing any damage to our power plants and the power lines that carry electricity from our plants to the local substations.
- We prioritize restoring power to critical facilities, such as hospitals, police and fire stations, communication facilities, water treatment plants, transportation providers and shelters.
- At the same time, we work to return service to the largest number of customers in the shortest amount of time − including service to major thoroughfares that host supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations and other needed community services.
- From here, we repair the infrastructure serving smaller groups and neighborhoods, converging on the hardest-hit areas until every customer's power is restored.
FP&L officials say no power generation facilities — including its nuclear reactors — were significantly damaged by Hurricane Irma.
“At the end of the day, we will get the lights back on,” Gould told WLRN.
Meanwhile, Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida offered this update from Duke Energy, which serves customers in central and northwestern Florida:
For Duke Energy, about 70 percent of its nearly 1.8 million home and business customers remained without power on Tuesday. But a news release late Tuesday afternoon said a portion of its service area that includes Pinellas and Pasco counties is expected to be restored by the end of Friday.
By the end of Sunday, Duke said power should be restored to “essentially all” customers in Alachua, Bay, Brevard, Citrus, Columbia, Dixie, Flagler, Franklin, Gilchrist, Gulf, Hamilton, Hernando, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lake, Leon, Levy, Madison, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Seminole, Sumter, Suwannee, Taylor, Volusia and Wakulla counties.
"Our crews are focused on restoring the largest amount of customers each day and that means some customers will see their service restored much earlier," Duke Energy Florida President Harry Sideris said in a prepared statement. “As crews respond to make repairs and restore service, specific estimated times of restoration will be updated for individual areas and customers. We have a workforce of more than 12,000 committed to this restoration effort. We are not stopping until the job is complete."
The news release noted that rebuilding the system in the severely impacted areas of Hardee and Highlands County --- inland counties east of Sarasota --- “may extend beyond Sunday.”