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FPL Prepares For Hurricane Season With ‘Lessons Learned’ From Irma

Peter Haden
FPL President and CEO Eric Silagy says the company is applying lessons learned from Hurricane Irma in preparation for the 2018 hurricane season.

With hurricane season fast approaching, Florida Power and Light is testing its systems — and more than 3,000 employees — to make sure they can get the lights back on quickly after a storm.

All this week at the Riviera Beach command center, the company is drilling for a hypothetical storm with characteristics similar to Hurricane Wilma, which struck Florida in 2005.

The company said it’s applying lessons learned from Hurricane Irma.

“Last year, we witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of Mother Nature and how critically important it is to get Florida back on its feet as quickly as possible,” said FPL President Eric Silagy at a press conference Thursday.

Credit Peter Haden / WLRN
Florida Gov. Rick Scott says a new state law requiring nursing homes and assisted living centers to have a backup power will prevent tragedies during future storms.

FPL’s website and mobile app crashed after Irma as millions of people tried to check when their power would be restored.

FPL has upgraded its systems to handle massive phone and web traffic, according to Silagy.

“One of the things that we underestimated, frankly, was the number of devices that we all own,” said Silagy. “We ended up with 25 to 30 million people hitting our account. We only have 5 million customers. We’re testing our system now at a much much higher level.”

Governor Rick Scott spoke to observed Thursday’s storm drill and spoke with FPL employees.

A new Florida law requiring nursing homes and assisted living centers to have a backup power will prevent tragedies, Scott said. Last year, 12 people died after power went out at a Hollywood nursing home.

“It was horrible what happened last year,” Scott said. “We still don’t understand why they didn’t evacuate.”

FPL was criticized for not restoring power to the facility earlier. It was not on Broward County’s priority restoration list.