FPL upgrading energy grid in Okaloosa to prevent service interruptions during severe storms

Special to Gannett / USA TODAY NETWORK

JUNO BEACH — Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) is upgrading the energy grid in Okaloosa County in 2022 to continue enhancing day-to-day reliability for customers and improving resiliency in the face of severe weather.  

Strengthening power poles, managing trees and vegetation near power lines, installing smart grid technology and regularly inspecting equipment have helped improve service reliability by 58 percent since customers in Northwest Florida became part of the FPL family in 2019. 

“We understand how much our customers depend on the critical service we provide,” said Eric Silagy, chairman and CEO of FPL. “That’s why our team works tirelessly to continuously improve the energy grid across our service area – from Pensacola to Miami. We know that in Florida it’s not a matter of if, but when, the next storm will impact our state. Our disciplined infrastructure and technology investments are improving day-to-day service for customers and helping us speed restoration after a storm.”

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2022 improvements in Okaloosa County

Florida Power and Light will take steps such as managing trees and vegetation, and putting power lines underground to improve customer services and reliability during hurricanes and storms.

FPL is making the following improvements in Okaloosa County this year:

  • Strengthening seven main power lines, including those that serve critical services that are necessary for communities to recover faster after major storms. 
  • Managing trees and vegetation – a common cause of power outages, particularly during hurricanes and severe weather -- along 287 miles of power lines. 
  • Installing smart grid technology, including 716 automated switches on main and neighborhood power lines, to help detect problems and restore service faster when outages occur. 

FPL made the following improvements in Okaloosa County from 2019 – 2021: 

  • Strengthened 16 miles of main power lines, including those that serve critical services. 
  • Inspected and maintained vegetation near 820 miles of power lines.
  • Inspected 23,348 power poles for strength. 
  • Installed smart grid technology, including 1,204 automated switches on main and neighborhood power lines. 
  • Inspected 239 main power lines and equipment using infrared technology. 

FPL’s adoption of emerging technology helps improve day-to-day service reliability. Drones and robots are used to conduct regular assessments and locate potential power issues to fix many problems before they affect customers. Intelligent devices can automatically redirect power, self-heal and eliminate or minimize customers affected -- resulting in more than 10 million outages avoided over the last decade for FPL customers. 

FPL is also continuing to boost reliability by putting more power lines underground in neighborhoods that can most benefit based on analysis of past hurricane outages, vegetation-related service interruptions and other reliability data. FPL’s Storm Secure Underground Pilot Program will complete 11 projects in Northwest Florida by the end of 2022, and FPL plans to bring the benefits of undergrounding to more neighborhoods across Florida in the future. 

“We continue to deploy innovative and industry-leading solutions that improve the grid – investments that are paying off for our customers,” said Manny Miranda, executive vice president of power delivery for FPL. “We are always looking for new ways to enhance the reliability of our service. From examining lessons learned from past storms to incorporating new advancements, we are seeing the value of our efforts every day.” 

The improvements continue to benefit customers across FPL’s service area in many ways. In 2021, the average customer in Northwest Florida experienced the fewest outages and momentary interruptions or flickers of any year in company history and the shortest overall duration of outages ever. FPL in 2021 won the ReliabilityOne® National Reliability Award for the sixth time in seven years. Presented by PA Consulting, the award is widely regarded in the energy industry as one of the most prestigious honors and reinforces FPL’s commitment to provide its more than 5.7 million customers with the nation’s most reliable service. 

For more about FPL and other NextEra Energy companies, visit:

  • www.NextEraEnergy.com. 
  • www.FPL.com.
  • www.NextEraEnergyResources.com.