FPL to invest about $15bn through 2014 on smart grid, other measures

Florida Power & Light (FPL) expects to invest about $15bn over the five-year period that began in 2010 and runs through 2014, or about $3bn a year, on smart grid technology and other measures, a company spokesperson told TransmissionHub May 21.

“Our investments are designed to strengthen and improve Florida’s electric generation and delivery system to maintain our strong reliability while helping keep customer bills low over the long term through the use of fuel-efficient generation technologies,” the spokesperson said.

Examples of such investments include storm hardening, that is, a multi-year investment that is helping FPL prepare for major storms, making the grid stronger and more resilient, the spokesperson said.

Other examples include the expansion and enhancement of FPL’s existing nuclear power plants and the deployment of advanced smart grid technology throughout the grid, the spokesperson said.

According to the company, through its “Energy Smart Florida” initiative, it is investing in advanced technologies that include intelligent devices on the electric grid, enhancements to centers that monitor grid performance and 4.5 million smart meters for customers.

“We’re investing in a variety of improvements to an electric grid that spans 27,000 square miles – such as the installation of advanced technology that helps speed restoration time and even prevent some outages from impacting customers,” the spokesperson said.

In March, FPL said it plans to invest more than $200m this year to continue strengthening the electric grid and keep service reliability high. In 2011, FPL continued to take steps to strengthen its electrical infrastructure and to enhance its emergency response capabilities, including pole inspections, system infrastructure hardening and vegetation management.

This year, FPL plans to inspect 137,000 distribution poles and reinforce or replace those that no longer meet the company’s strength standards. FPL also said it plans to begin a new six-year inspection cycle of its transmission structures and complete all remaining follow-up work identified in 2011. Last year, the company replaced more than 10,000 utility poles after inspecting them for strength, including poles along local (distribution) and main (transmission) lines.

The company further noted that it will continue strengthening projects for feeders (main lines) that serve critical infrastructure facilities like hospitals. Also this year, FPL will continue its approved cycle plans to clear more than 12,000 miles of vegetation from its distribution lines and clear all of its transmission rights of way.

Among other things, FPL said it has reduced the average number of service interruptions for customers by about 15% since 2007.

Regarding strengthening the system against severe weather, FPL said a key focus of its storm preparedness program this year includes 27 main power lines and 14 additional neighborhood power line projects. Additionally, FPL is continuing to upgrade its high-voltage transmission lines by replacing wood structures with concrete or steel.

FPL is a subsidiary of NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE).

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3160 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.