Hurricane Alexa isn’t a real storm, but nevertheless she sent Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL) workers scrambling in a recent virtual training exercise that simulated a Category 2 storm set along Florida’s Treasure Coast.
As part of its annual response test situated at FPL's Command Center in Riviera Beach, FPL conducted the multi-day event not just to keep personnel on their toes, but also to deploy new technology — such as an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) and an amphibious robot — to widen the utility company’s scope and speed in post-hurricane refurbishment.
"With more than 10 years having passed since the last hurricane impacted Florida, we are constantly pushing ourselves to improve upon our storm response and restoration capabilities," Eric Silagy, FPL’s president and CEO, said. "Today's virtual exercise is designed to stress test the broader FPL organization, implementing lessons learned from storms in recent years, including Super Storm Sandy.”
Members of the Florida National Guard, U.S. Department of Energy, partner energy companies and the Florida Division of Emergency Management were on hand for the exercise alongside FPL staff on the ground.
"Paths of hurricanes don't adhere to county lines or service area boundaries, but instead often slice through large sections of the state," Bryan Koon, who directs the Florida Division of Emergency Management, said. “That's why collaborating and training together, like we did today at FPL's drill, is not only beneficial for FPL customers, but for all Floridians.”
FPL has invested over $2 billion to maintain a storm-ready electric grid since Hurricane Wilma hit Florida over 10 years ago, said Silagy, reinforcing power lines, installing extra underground lineage, using smart meters, keeping a close eye on vegetation boundaries, and routinely inspecting power poles statewide to enhance readiness.
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