Thursday, February 02, 2006

FPL's Response to Build a Stronger Grid for the Future

This is an e-mail I received from FPL concerning improving the power grid for Florida:


Dear Community Leader:

Today FPL announced a comprehensive, progressive and industry setting five-point program to build a stronger electrical grid for the future.

We have developed our sweeping proposal over the past three months, conducting extensive analyses either directly ourselves or with the aid of external resources such as FEMA, on the evidence of seven hurricane events that our system has experienced in the last two seasons: Charley, Frances,Jeanne, Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma. Equally important, we have received valuable input from local and state officials, emergency managers, community leaders and customers, whose expectations and sentiments have been expressed in the wake of this past storm season. After discussion and input from many of you, we are committing our company to implement the measurers set forth below, which will harden our infrastructure both in the short-term and in years to come, including:

Hardening the Electric Network for the Long Term, including adopting National Electric Safety Code (NESC) extreme wind velocity zone criteria as the standard for all new construction and system upgrades (up to 150 mph in certain areas), using construction methods such as undergrounding, stronger poles (concrete poles in particular in many instances), shorter spans, guying, etc., as well as upgrading existing overhead main lines, initially targeting those serving top critical infrastructure facilities and major thoroughfares.

Aggressively Promoting and Investing in Underground Conversions, including paying 25% of the cost of local government-sponsored overhead-to-underground conversion projects otherwise borne by the requesting locality; facilitating undergrounding projects by allowing cable, conduit and above-ground transformers and switch cabinets to be placed in road rights-of-way under specific standards and agreements; and aggressively pursuing legislation and local ordinances requiring all developers to provide underground service for new subdivisions, developments and projects.

Modifying and Enhancing Our Current Pole Inspections, by establishing a systematic ten-year inspection program for all wood poles, including those poles owned by other utilities, and working with other utilities to address "joint-use" issues pertaining to loading.

Enhancing Line Clearing and Vegetation Management Practices, by accelerating trimming along main lines to complete 75% of each year's line clearing work before the peak hurricane season, completing line clearing for circuits that serve top critical infrastructure facilities prior to every hurricane season, ensuring a 3-year line clearing cycle for all mainlines, aggressively pursuing our "Right Tree Right Place" program to educate communities regarding the placement, removal, species and type of trees that should be placed in proximity to poles and lines, and supporting legislation that would do so as well.

Completing all post-hurricane repairs and targeted facility upgrades to prepare for the 2006 hurricane season.

We have all experienced first hand the significant impact of recent hurricanes in our state. No utility has had to respond to as many direct hits by hurricanes in recent years as FPL. We recognize that if the recent cycle of increased hurricane activity is the new storm paradigm for our state, FPL's service area and its customers will undoubtedly be impacted. Without fundamental and significant changes in the way we prepare for storms and harden our infrastructure to prevent outages, we believe that the level of disruptions to our electrical system may well continue into the future. That is unacceptable to FPL, as it is unacceptable to our customers.

However, it is a reality that, regardless of the initiatives that we set forth above, when hurricanes and severe weather events impact our stated, outages will occur. It is our intention, however, to take the steps necessary to mitigate such impact. The tactical and strategic initiatives we have outlined not only address the resiliency of our system future severe weather events, but also provide for an increased level of day-to-day reliability for our customers. In addition to the initiatives outlined above, FPL intends to make further refinements to this action plan based on additional input and analyses, and will include such refinements as part of our 10-year hardening plan. We expect this plan to provide a clear road map to improving the long-term resiliency of our electric infrastructure, and will submit it to you later this year. Furthermore we will include localized hardening plans that we will share with respective community leaders and local emergency managers. No one could have predicted the storm cycle we now find ourselves facing. That said, the weather has changed, and so have we.

Below I am attaching a full copy of the plan we announce this afternoon. FPL will be working with our communities to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season, including identification and validation of critical infrastructure facilities and local priorities with emergency managers. We will be also be making further enhancements to our restoration processes as well as customer and government communications that will be ongoing. We will continue to keep you apprised of our efforts and greatly value your input, dialogue and community leadership. Thank you.

Jeffrey S. Bartel
Vice President, External Affairs"

Editor's Note: The full copy of the plan is available if e-mailed to the editor. Also, matters relating to vegetation has already been sponsored and passed by the Mayor.

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