FPL Expects Power Back on by End of Weekend in South Florida

More than 2.1 million customers have lost power in Florida with Hurricane Irma striking the state

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"This is likely to be one of the largest and most complex power restoration efforts in USA history", said Tom Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute, an industry trade group.

That's how the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) trade group described the challenge facing utilities in the days and weeks to come.

The initial assessment showed that damage was less extensive on the eastern half of the state, said Rob Gould, FPL chief communications officer said. But they face the same downed trees, washed-out bridges and roads, and coastal storm surges and flooding that are preventing emergency responders from getting to the worst-hit areas.

In total about 4.5 million FPL customers were affected by the storm, with more than 1.7 million having their service restored already, mostly by automated devices. "Even though we are restoring power, people need to be prepared for some prolonged and extended outages", said Silagy.

Major utilities in Florida - including NextEra Energy Inc's Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy Corp and Emera Inc's Tampa Electric - have mobilized tens of thousands of workers to deal with the outages after Irma landed early Sunday and carved a destructive path up Florida, which has a population of about 20 million. In some coastal counties the outage rates are as high as 97 percent.

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Some 6.1 million homes and businesses in Florida and nearby states still had no power on Tuesday after the pummeling from Hurricane Irma, as utility companies scrambled to get the lights back on in one of the biggest power restoration efforts in USA history.

Duke deployed more than 9,000 linesmen and support crew members to Irma-struck areas, but can not yet say how long some customers will be without power.

Some residents expressed concern after FPL's announcement.

A Florida utility executive says restoring full power to Florida after Irma will take some time. "We also have restoration crews in the field beginning work".

FPL ON Monday morning shut down a reactor after routine inspection crews discovered an issue with a valve, Gould said.

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More than 660,000 power cuts were reported in Broward County, while Miami-Dade County saw 888,530 outages - the area's hardest hit - The Sun-Sentinel reported. But Silagy told Bloomberg on Friday that Hurricane Irma brought winds that can "snap a concrete pole", and overwhelm flood protections for underground distribution systems.

"Most of the outages we are seeing is a result of debris and vegetation that is blowing into our lines", Gould said. As restoration operations begin, priority will be given to FPL's own power plants, substations and wrecked transmission lines. The electricity company would then turn its attention to areas that are home to supermarkets, gas stations and other community services.

As Irma slowly continues to dissipate over Alabama, power restoration efforts across Florida and Georgia ramp up.

FPL kept the St. Lucie Nuclear Plant running during the storm because of Irma's westerly track.

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