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FPL at work on hurricane-hardening measures on the Key

By Rachel Brown Hackney
SarasotaNewsLeader.com

For several months, Siesta residents have been seeing plenty of signs of a hurricane-hardening project Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL) is undertaking.

After receiving some inquiries about facets of the project, SNL contacted FPL for more details.

In an email, FPL spokesman Matt Eissey wrote that the company’s “hardening project of the energy grid that serves Siesta Key began in April and is expected to last until the end of 2019. This includes replacing some concrete poles, many of which were installed in the 1960s, with new storm-hardened wood poles. The new wood poles are stronger than the existing concrete poles and are also more cost-efficient, allowing FPL to enhance the reliability of its service in good weather and bad.”

He added that, as with all its projects, “FPL is ensuring the work is completed safely.” People may learn more about what “FPL is doing to continue providing reliable service at www.fpl.com/reliability,” he pointed out.

Additionally, anyone who wants to check on company projects in close proximity to his or her neighborhood may visit FPLmaps.com and enter the person’s address. A map pops up with the details.

When SNL chose a Tropical Circle address at random, the map that appeared said FPL is clearing vegetation from neighborhood power lines and from main power lines. Icons on the map show the work sites.

Eissey also provided SNL with a fact sheet regarding the energy grid improvements the company will have completed in Sarasota County from 2006 through this year. Among the details are the following:

• Will have installed 3,250 smart grid devices, including 161 automated switches on main power lines and 3,089 automated switches on neighborhood power lines “to help detect and prevent power issues and get life back to normal faster if outages occur.”

• Will have upgraded and strengthened 46 main power lines, with 18 on the schedule for this year.

• Will have trimmed trees and vegetation along 9,376 miles of power lines, an average of 721 miles per year. “Trees and other vegetation growing near power lines are a major cause of outages,” the fact sheet explains. By Dec. 31, the fact sheet notes, FPL is scheduled to have trimmed vegetation from 1,103 miles of its Sarasota County power lines.

• Will have inspected all 85,639 power poles for strength. This year alone, inspections of 2,571 poles have been scheduled.

• Will have inspected 272 main power lines, using advanced infrared cameras that help detect and address potential problems with equipment before outages occur. By the end of this year, FPL plans call for company workers to have completed inspections of 10 main power lines in the county.