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Florida Public Power utilities preparing for potential challenges

Amy Zubaly's picture
Executive Director, Florida Municipal Electric Association

Amy Zubaly Executive Director FMEA PO Box 10114 Tallahassee, FL 32302 850.224.3314

  • Member since 2022
  • 1 items added with 422 views
  • Jun 8, 2022

Hurricane season is officially upon us. While many Florida residents are preparing by restocking hurricane supplies and assembling hurricane kits, Florida’s Public Power utilities have been working throughout the year to prepare for what is expected to be another active hurricane season.

Clearing trees and branches away from power lines, inspecting and replacing utility poles, strengthening, and upgrading electrical substations and conducting hurricane simulations are all part of the routine preventive measures utilities take to minimize outages when a major weather event occurs.

Florida Public Power utilities have exercised their disaster plans and remain at ready to respond to any emergency. The Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA) also recently held its annual Hurricane & Storm Preparedness Forum – a one-day event on hurricane preparedness and response, mutual aid, FEMA reimbursement processes, and other disaster and emergency response related issues, which also provides an opportunity for Florida Public Power utilities to share best practices and lessons learned in previous storms with each other.

Despite all the planning, preparing and past experience, Florida and other states often in the path of hurricanes are facing a new challenge this hurricane season.

We’ve all been impacted by it – at the grocery store, at restaurants and at car lots. Issues with the supply chain have affected everything from baby formula to car parts. Utilities are also feeling the strain of global supply chain disruptions, spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic and exacerbated by ongoing materials and labor shortages.

Supplies of critical electric components like transformers, cable and wire, and other materials are lower than typical, as electric utilities across the U.S. experience longer-than-usual delivery times from manufacturers and growing demand as new development is increasing across the state.  

Public power utilities are working through the ongoing supply chain challenges by boosting inventory levels, placing additional orders into next year and expanding communications with local developers. However, as hurricane season approaches, supply chain delays are limiting the normal surplus of restoration materials, such as transformers, utilities typically have on hand at the beginning of the storm season. In what is predicted to be another above-average year for hurricanes, if Florida is hit with multiple storms, supply chain delays could present additional problems in power restoration efforts.

As the association that has represented the interests of Florida’s Public Power utilities for 80 years, it is, and always has been, FMEA’s top priority to protect the needs of FMEA member utilities and the communities we serve. FMEA is taking action to help minimize the impact supply chain disruptions have on public power utilities and our ability to respond to and provide expeditious power restoration during hurricane season.

Even with the challenges ahead, Florida Public Power utilities remain committed to restoring customers’ power as quickly and safely as possible this hurricane season. We encourage all Floridians to prepare now for the unexpected.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jun 8, 2022

Is there a push to have reserve supplies ready in this type of event? It seems like something where there's no such thing as too much preparation

David Trahan's picture
David Trahan on Jun 21, 2022

The power grid is a vital resource for all in everyday life. Preparation is key to minimizing system damage during a high wind event like a hurricane. It's especially important in Florida which gets so many storms over a couple of decades looking back. I'm curious to know if there are statistics available that report the number of wooden power poles damaged and replaced plus the wooden poles replaced due to age within the Florida grid.

I understand from speaking to power company engineers they are slowly moving the metal and concrete poles in replacement of the wooden poles (dead tree poles). Burying might make sense in highly congested inner city grides but is far too costly in general.

Why not look at the physical advantages of UHPFRC poles which use less concrete, and can be produced quickly at or near the high volume use point by using existing ready mix plants. No impact on the life cycle of trees, no high energy costs to harvest, prepare, treat with anti-rot chemicals, and avoid introducing those chemicals into the ground. UHPFRC has proven compressive strength of over 25,000 psi and a ductility (flex) of over 5,000 psi 

Cost wise when looking at the total life cycle cost and the projected age of UHPFRC at + 200 years it seems like it's a far better investment for power companies to move from dead tree poles over to non-traditional concrete like UHPFRC to provide a far more durable method of suspending the power grid. Plus no more spike feet for linemen. The climbing ladder is molded into the pole to allow for line operators to travel to the point of wire attachment to assess situations.

Paul Korzeniowski's picture
Paul Korzeniowski on Jul 5, 2022

Tough time of the year for Florida and other Southern utilities. The weather can be devastating to grid infrastructure and illustrates just how powerful Mother Nature can be.   

Amy Zubaly's picture
Thank Amy for the Post!
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