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FPL Ready For Irma, Says Power Grid May Have To Be Rebuilt

Florida Power & Light Company Senior Vice President of Power Delivery Manny Miranda briefs his team during FPL’s annual storm drill in Riviera Beach, FL - May 5, 2016";

Florida Power & Light has at least 11,000 crew members on standby to restore power after Hurricane Irma.

The utility says some substations may be shut off if flood waters get close - which means some people may be without power as the worst of the storm approaches. FPL spokesman Rob Gould says preemptively shutting off substations will allow for faster restoration of power after the storm.

"We've also installed smart meters and smart devices across the grid," Gould told reporters late Thursday morning. "That will allow us to know - especially in the back end of the storm when it's typically the most frustrating for our customers - we will know where customers do not have service."

"No grid is designed to be able to withstand a category 5 storm."

FPL plans to shut down its Turkey Point and St. Lucie nuclear plants well ahead of the storm - Gould wouldn't provide specifics about the timing - and keep them offline until it's safe to bring them back on. That includes getting the okay from government regulators.

FLP serves more than half of Florida, and 90 percent of its customers are within 20 miles of the coastline.

Even with thousands of workers ready to restore power, Gould anticipates that much of the grid may have to be rebuilt if Irma continues on its forecast path as a major hurricane. 

"I can say this with certainty. We have arguably one of the strongest grids in America, but no grid is designed to be able to withstand a category 5 storm," Gould says.