ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Duke Energy Florida is preparing for Tropical Depression Fred and is urging customers to prepare as well.
Company meteorologists are tracking the storm and crews are preparing to safely and quickly respond if the storm impacts Duke Energy Florida’s service area.
Tropical Depression Fred could potentially strengthen and bring heavy rainfall, strong winds and localized flooding to portions of the company’s service area.
The company will bring in crews from the Carolinas if additional resources are needed to support power restoration.
“Duke Energy is ready to respond should outages occur,” said Todd Fountain, Duke Energy Florida storm director. “Tropical weather events like Fred can bring wind-blown debris and flooding that can impact our infrastructure. We will continue to keep customers informed and encourage everyone to monitor this system so they can stay safe.”
In advance of the storm, Duke Energy will move power utility crews and resources so they are staged in areas and ready to help restore power as soon as it is safe to do so.
In addition, line technicians and workers are checking equipment, supplies and inventories to ensure adequate materials are available to make repairs and restore power outages.
Restoring power after a storm can be challenging for utility repair crews, as travel and work conditions can be impacted by high winds, downed trees and flooding.
Before bulk power can be restored, crews first must assess the extent of damage to determine which crews, equipment and supplies will be needed before repairs can begin.
In addition to trimming trees and inspecting and replacing wires and wood poles, the company has invested in grid automation and smart technologies to reduce the duration and number of outages and restore service faster when outages occur.
Duke Energy’s smart-thinking grid automatically detects outages and intelligently reroutes power to speed restoration or avoid outages altogether. In 2020, smart, self-healing technology helped to avoid nearly 290,000 extended outages in Florida, saving customers around 18.9 million minutes of service interruption, nearly double the hours saved in 2019. Over the next few years, Duke Energy expects to install enough self-healing technology to serve most customers.
After a storm, Duke Energy crews must physically inspect miles of power line to ensure everyone’s power is restored. It’s time consuming, but Duke Energy crews now can use a technology called Ping-it to remotely check that service has been restored following repairs. Ping-it sends a signal to each meter in a few seconds to confirm repairs were successful. In Florida, Duke Energy has installed nearly 2 million smart meters that enable this technology.
Duke Energy has made changes to the way it responds to major storms to promote the safety of crews and communities during COVID-19. Many of those process modifications and improvements will continue during the 2021 storm season.
The safety of our customers and communities is important. Duke Energy encourages customers to have a plan in place to respond to an extended power outage after a storm or other severe weather. Below are some tips:
- Create (or update) an emergency supply kit to save valuable time later. The kit should include everything an individual or family would need for at least two weeks, especially medicines, water, non-perishable foods and other supplies that might be hard to find after a storm hits. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has relaxed some of its guidance for vaccinated individuals, an emergency kit should still include items that can help protect you and others from COVID-19, such as hand sanitizer, bar or liquid soap, and face coverings aligned with CDC guidance.
- Keep a portable radio or TV or a NOAA weather radio on hand to monitor weather forecasts and important information from state and local officials.
- Charge cellphones, computers and other electronic devices in advance of storms to stay connected to important safety and response information. Consider purchasing portable chargers and make sure they are fully charged as well.
- Maintain a plan to move family members – especially those with special needs – to a safe, alternative location in case an extended power outage occurs or evacuation is required.
- Pet owners should arrange to stay at evacuation shelters that accept pets; friends’ or family members’ homes; or pet-friendly hotels.
- Stay away from power lines that have fallen or are sagging. Consider all lines energized, as well as trees, limbs or anything in contact with lines.
- If a power line falls across a car that you are in, stay in the car. If you MUST get out of the car due to a fire or other immediate life-threatening situation, do your best to jump clear of the car and land on both feet. Be sure that no part of your body is touching the car when your feet touch the ground.
- If you need to go to a disaster shelter, follow CDC recommendations for staying safe and healthy in a public disaster shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic.