FPL says improvements to system will help keep customers out of - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

FPL says improvements to system will help keep customers out of the dark after storms

HIALEAH, Fla. - As storms blew through South Florida in 2004 and 2005, no one was immune to the power of Mother Nature - not even FPL workers.

"I was also without power pretty much the same time that everyone else was out of power," says Chris Wyatt, a transmission line specialist with FPL.

RELATED: Hurricane Survival Guide  | Tropical Storm Climatology for August  Interactive Tracking Map 

Today we still aren't immune, but FPL management says the power company is more prepared.

"We're probably the most prepared now than we've ever been in our history," says Bill Orlove, an FPL spokesman. "A lot of that is due to the 2 billion dollars that we've invested into the grid to make it smarter, stronger and more storm resilient."

One reason why is a new switch that automatically detects issues on a line.

"It can then determine when it's safe to re-energize the line, and when it does so, it rapidly restores customers back in service," Orlove says.

Only 1,200 are installed now, but by then end of the year 20,000 will be in place.

Crews say it's a great improvement over old tech, which required in person observation and multiple steps.
 
Then there's Restoration Spatial View system.

"Before, we didn't have any way of knowing if a customer was out of power remotely," says Esteban Perez, an FPL line specialist. "We would have to rely on them calling us."

Now, with so called 'Smart Meters' installed across their entire system, the issues are mapped out for workers.

"After a hurricane hits, we're going to be able to see where the problems are, see who's out, see where our lines run," Perez says.

They are billion dollar investments the company says will help Floridians weather the storm this year - and beyond.

FPL estimates 1 million of it’s customer accounts have never experienced a storm here in Florida.

FPL's advice is that everyone take Erika seriously - prepare your hurricane kits, cut the vegetation around your house so it doesn't damage power lines, and make sure you home  is ready.

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