Saturday, 23 September, 2017

FPL calling customers with Hurricane Irma prep information

By Scott Di Savino and Timothy Gardner By Scott Di Savino and Timothy Gardner
Nicole Thomas | 12 September, 2017, 05:50

"We have arguably one of the strongest grids in America, but no grid is created to be able to withstand a Category 5 storm that has wind approaching 185 miles per hour [300 km/h]", Gould said. One, the St. Lucie Power Station, is on Hutchinson Island near Port St. Lucie. FPL has already restored electricity to approximately 320,000 customers, but anticipates more outages to come with high tropical storm-force winds.

Duke Energy, another large utility provider in the state with service areas concentrated in North-Central Florida and the panhandle, is reporting minor power outages in about 20 counties, with the majority of outages concentrated in the areas surrounding Tampa on the West, and Gainesville and Ocala in central Florida.

In a phone call with William Gross, the Director of Incident Preparedness for pro-nuclear lobbying group Nuclear Energy Institute, Gross noted that, after its shut down, Turkey Point will continue to draw power from the grid to run cooling operations until the grid fails. "They should leave the beach, they must leave the beach", he said during a press conference Wednesday.

"FPL's nuclear plants are protected by thick concrete and reinforced steel and like many plants around the world were bolstered further after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, Gould said". Particularly when a plant, such as Florida Power and Light's Turkey Point, has a poor safety record and a propensity to leak. The Homestead, Florida, plant also has a "backup to the backup" plan that involves extra generators and fuel. A skeleton crew of workers will ride out the storm at each plant, he said. They must be cooled off after shutting down or a meltdown can occur causing hydrogen-air explosions and release of radioactive material. The reactors automatically shut down power generation when the quake hit, but the loss of backup generators meant that the radioactive fuel rods within the reactor could not be kept cool, causing the fuel to melt down. He would not comment on exactly when the plants would be taken down or how long they could be shut. Power from the grid to the plant was down for five days, and the facility suffered a "complete loss of communication systems". At least three people died in the city after being electrocuted by live wires in floodwaters, according to news reports. Irma knocked out power for more than half the state.

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"Many of our concrete polls, which are rated for 145 miles per hour, especially along the coast will be at risk", he said.

Customers can expect to be out of power for "weeks, if not more", FPL spokesman Rob Gould said. Irma's winds will nearly certainly do the job - sending branches and tree trunks into electrical wires.

"We know that being without electricity creates hardships, and we greatly appreciate customers' patience as electric companies work day and night to assess damage and to restore power where and when conditions are safe to do so", said Kuhn. That could take days or weeks.

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