Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Smart grid lets FPL turn lights back on after Dorian

Steve Rogerson
September 17, 2019

Florida Power & Light (FPL) quickly restored service to all customers impacted by Hurricane Dorian. The utility restored more than 160,000 customers, some more than once, using smart grid technology.
Most outages were caused primarily by downed trees, vegetation and debris blowing into power lines. FPL also worked with other utilities to the north to reallocate resources to help respond to Dorian as it impacted Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia.
"For customers impacted by Hurricane Dorian, thank you for your patience as we worked around-the-clock to get your lights back on as the storm moved north," said Eric Silagy, FPL president and CEO. “I also want to thank our industry partners who helped bolster our restoration workforce to among the largest pre-storm levels in our history, as we prepared to face this catastrophic storm. Lastly, I want to thank Governor DeSantis, law enforcement, first responders and other state and local officials for helping enable us to restore power safely and as quickly as possible."
He said that the company was able to do this because of its investments over the past decade in smart grid technology, undergrounding power lines and strengthening the energy grid so it could restore power faster to customers and avoid thousands of outages.
"With smart grid technology, some restoration tasks that would previously have required a crew to travel to a site in the field and perform work on overhead equipment can now be resolved with the push of a button,” Silagy said. “We also deployed 58 drones to help crews get eyes on any damage to our electric system. This high-tech provides valuable insight into areas of dense vegetation and flooding, and helps us get the right crews and resources in the right places more quickly."
Toppled trees falling onto equipment and power lines, along with excess vegetation and debris, were the leading cause of outages from Hurricane Dorian. While FPL trims trees from more than 24,000 kilometres of power lines each year, keeping trees away from power lines is a shared responsibility. Its customers are urged to follow FPL's guidelines when planting trees.
After Hurricane Dorian's catastrophic impact in the Bahamas, the company will make a contribution to the Red Cross for the Bahamas along with its employees. Additionally, FPL is working with the United Way to gather supplies to assist those in need.
Nearly four million FPL customers were in Dorian's path. More than 160,000 customers were restored, some more than once, using smart grid technology. The peak number of outages was just over 11,000 at any given time during the storm. The average customer was restored in just over an hour, and no outage lasted more than 24 hours. More than 37,000 outages were avoided thanks to investments in smart grid technology. And 58 drones were deployed to help crews visualise damage in dense or flooded areas.
"Dorian is a reminder that we are in the height of hurricane season, and we must remain vigilant," said Silagy. "Please take time now to ensure you and your family are prepared before the next storm strikes."