Florida governor: More than 6.5 million accounts have power outages due to Irma

According to a Sept. 11 statement from Florida Gov. Rick Scott, more than 6.5 million accounts have power outages in the state due to Hurricane Irma, which, as noted on the website of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Hurricane Center, is now a tropical storm.

More than 30,000 restoration personnel have been activated to help restore power as quickly as possible following the storm’s impact, the statement noted.

Irma made landfall in Florida a couple of weeks after Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas. As TransmissionHub reported, Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane near Rockport, Texas, on Aug. 25.

As noted in a separate statement from the governor, Hurricane Irma made landfall at Cudjoe Key in the Lower Florida Keys on the morning of Sept. 10. That statement noted that after the governor’s request, President Donald Trump approved a major disaster declaration, which authorizes:

  • 100% federal reimbursement for 30 days in all counties for emergency protective measures, such as sheltering costs. After the 30 days, the federal government will reimburse 75% of those costs, including local and state expenses
  • 75% federal reimbursement for all counties for debris removal
  • Direct federal financial assistance for impacted Florida families in certain counties, including Miami-Dade and Manatee counties

The governor’s Sept. 11 statement provided a full breakdown of current power outages as of 12 p.m., including:

  • About 3.6 million Florida Power & Light (FPL) accounts without power, or 74%
  • About 1.3 million Duke Energy accounts without power, or 73%
  • 333,137 Tampa Electric accounts without power, or 44%

NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE) subsidiary FPL, in a Sept. 10 statement, said that as of that afternoon, it had restored more than 350,000 outages in the midst of the hurricane, and that it anticipated that customers would likely experience more than one outage throughout the duration of the storm, particularly as Irma’s speed has slowed.

Duke Energy, in a Sept. 10 statement, said that nearly 8,000 workers and additional resources would be mobilized, equipped and ready to begin – once conditions safely permit – what is expected to be a lengthy restoration process to repair possibly more than 1 million power outages across its Florida service territory resulting from Irma.

Tampa Electric, an Emera company, in a Sept. 9 statement, said that it was preparing for extensive power outages that could affect 300,000 to 500,000 customers. The utility said that it was requesting an additional 4,500 line and tree workers to help rebuild the system and restore power after Irma passes through.

As noted on the National Hurricane Center’s website on Sept. 11, Tropical Storm Irma is gradually weakening while moving over northern Florida.

According to the center’s 2 p.m., EDT, Sept. 11 Tropical Storm Irma public advisory, a storm surge warning is in effect for South Santee River southward to the Flagler/Volusia County line; north of Anna Maria Island to the Ochlockonee River; as well as Tampa Bay. A storm surge warning means that there is a danger of life-threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline, during the next 36 hours in the indicated locations, according to the public advisory.

The public advisory also noted that a tropical storm warning is in effect for north of the Suwannee River to the Okaloosa/Walton County Line; as well as north of the Flagler/Volusia County line to the South Santee River.

At 2 p.m., EDT, the center of Tropical Storm Irma was located near latitude 30.8 North, longitude 83.6 West, the public advisory said. Irma is moving toward the north-northwest near 17 mph, and that motion is expected to continue through Sept. 12, the public advisory noted. On the forecast track, the center of Irma will continue to move over southwestern Georgia on Sept. 11, and move into eastern Alabama on the morning of Sept. 12, according to the public advisory.

Maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 60 mph with higher gusts, the public advisory said, noting that continued slow weakening is forecast, and Irma is likely to become a tropical depression on Sept. 12.

Irma remains a large tropical cyclone, the public advisory said, adding that tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 415 miles from the center.

According to the governor’s Sept. 11 statement, more than 585 shelters are open throughout the state, with a total population of more than 200,000 individuals. The statement further noted that more than 90 special needs shelters are open, with a total population of more than 17,000 individuals. Information about available shelters can be found here, the statement noted.

According to the Associated Press: “One death in Florida, that of a man killed in an auto accident during the storm, was blamed on Irma. At least 34 people were left dead in the storm’s wake across the Caribbean.”

According to a 4 p.m., EDT, Sept. 10 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Infrastructure Security & Energy RestorationHurricane Irma & Hurricane Harvey Event Summary (Report #25),” as of 10 a.m., EDT, Sept. 10, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority was reporting 431,064 customers – 27.5% of total customers – without power, the report noted. Also, the report said that as of 11:45 a.m., EDT, Sept. 10, the U.S. Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority reported that all customers on the islands of St. Thomas – 19,581 customers – and St. John – 2,893 customers – remain without power, although restoration crews have had success with a generator energizing certain circuits to critical infrastructure. St. Croix has 6,905 customer outages, the report noted.

Discussing oil and natural gas, the report said that the Secretary of Homeland Security on Sept. 8 waived the Jones Act requirements for shipping fuel to Florida, as reported by White House Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert. That will allow foreign flag vessels to bring in fuel to help with fuel shortages amid the recovery from Hurricane Irma in Florida, the report noted, adding that ports in eight port sectors in the Caribbean, Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina are either closed or open with restrictions.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3228 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.