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FPL control centre to act smart during emergencies

Steve Rogerson
February 2, 2017
 
Florida Power & Light (FPL) has broken ground on its distribution control centre in West Palm Beach, designed to ensure greater everyday reliability and more efficient communications, collaboration and response during emergency restoration events.
 
The category five-rated facility is an expansion of FPL's command centre and will consolidate the company's two existing control centre facilities in Miami and Sarasota.
 
"Since Hurricane Andrew, 25 years ago this year, and the historic hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005, FPL has invested billions of dollars to make our system stronger, smarter and more storm-resilient," said Eric Silagy, president and CEO for FPL. "Most recently, these investments provided benefits for our customers during Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew, with fewer outages and faster restoration times. And, we continue to improve our storm response capabilities, now with the construction of a hardened distribution control centre that will position us to get the lights on faster for our customers."
 
FPL's facilities hardening project is the largest in the company's history and includes the building of a distribution control centre and hardening of 12 service centres across the state to improve restoration time for customers. The hardened facilities will help offer everyday reliability and allow strategic pre-staging of more than 1000 personnel to ensure FPL responds to its customers safely and quickly following storms.
 
The utility's newly constructed category five-rated distribution control centre, which will be a consolidation of the company's existing south-east and north-west control centres in Miami and Sarasota, respectively, will leverage advanced technologies to provide the company with better collaboration during emergency restoration events.
 
"We train year-round to handle extreme weather events and continuously look for ways to improve our storm response," said Manny Miranda, senior vice president of power delivery for FPL. "The new distribution control centre and hardened service centre facilities will further strengthen our storm response capabilities, ensuring better collaboration during emergency events and allowing crews to quickly get to the hardest hit neighbourhoods to restore service."
 
FPL's more than $2bn in investments over the past decade, including strengthening its electrical system and leveraging smart grid technology, delivered benefits for customers during Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew in autumn 2016. During Hurricane Hermine in September, FPL crews worked safely and quickly to restore service to all its customers impacted by the storm within 24 hours of Hermine's passing, and customers experienced an average outage of less than three hours. Investments in smart grid automated switches also helped prevent 25,000 customer interruptions.
 
By strengthening its electrical system and leveraging smart grid technology during Hurricane Matthew in October, FPL restored 99 per cent of customers affected by the end of two full days of restoration following the hurricane's exit from its service area. Smart grid automated switches on FPL's system prevented approximately 118,000 customer interruptions, and hardened distribution main power lines performed 30 per cent better than non-hardened main power lines. Furthermore, no FPL transmission poles and hardened main power line poles failed due to high winds.
 
FPL is the third-largest electric utility in the USA, serving more than 4.8 million customer accounts or more than ten million people across nearly half of the state of Florida. It is a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, a clean energy company recognised for its efforts in sustainability, ethics and diversity.