ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (April 1, 2011) – Early estimates indicate that Progress Energy Florida has restored power to a total of more than 390,000 customers following the series of severe storms packing hurricane-like winds that battered the company’s service territory Wednesday and Thursday. As of noon Friday, approximately 23,000 customers remained without power. Of those, about 12,000 reside in Central Florida and roughly 9,000 in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area.
By comparison, following the landfall of Hurricane Charley in 2004, the utility restored power to about 500,000 customers over a 10-day period.
“This week we experienced a unique series of unnamed storms that caused hurricane-like damage on consecutive days,” said Jason Cutliffe, system storm coordinator for Progress Energy Florida. “Despite the additional challenges presented by the intense, back-to-back storms, our crews have restored power to hundreds of thousands of customers. While we’ve made a lot of progress to this point, we will not rest until power is completely restored.”
Unlike a hurricane, which typically impacts the service territory for a matter of hours, the series of storms that struck Florida this week caused widespread damage over multiple days without warning – causing a number of outages while crews were repairing damage that occurred the previous day. This presented additional challenges in the area of projecting the estimated time of restoration of service to individual customers.
The utility is continuing its systematic approach to restoring power, beginning with critical care facilities and the lines and equipment serving the largest number of customers, and proceeding to those affecting fewer people. Given the unique nature of these storms, the utility is placing added emphasis on restoring power to those customers who have been affected the longest.
Progress Energy expects to have service restored to all customers capable of receiving power by late Friday.
In the wake of this week’s storms, the company asks that those in the affected areas keep the following safety tips in mind:
Avoid downed power lines.If you see a downed power line, call Progress Energy to report its location. Don't touch or go near fallen wires or anything the wire touches, even if there are no sparks. Never touch downed power lines. Don’t use any object to move power lines, including brooms, boards, limbs or plastic materials. Avoid driving over downed power lines.
Steer clear of standing water. Electricity and water don't mix.Keep electrical appliances and toys away from water, including rain, wet ground, swimming pools, sprinklers and hoses. Be sure to avoid standing water following a storm, as submerged or down power lines could pose an invisible but potentially life-threatening hazard to anyone in the area. Never replace a fuse or touch a circuit breaker with wet hands, or while standing on a wet or damp surface.
Be wary of flood risks. If rising water threatens your home, turn off the power at the circuit breaker panel or fuse box before water enters your home. Have an electrician inspect your system before turning the power back on after flooding.
Operate generators cautiously. If you have a gasoline-powered electric generator, use it in well-ventilated areas and only plug in individual appliances. Never connect a generator to a wall outlet of your home or a building's electrical system since that can cause damage to your equipment and can be a life-threatening danger to your family, neighbors and repair crews.
Long before a storm or hurricane threatens, Progress Energy stands ready to respond. Progress Energy prepares all year long by strengthening its system against storms and ensuring crews are prepared to respond to any situation in all weather conditions. The company’s comprehensive storm-response plan ensures that employees and equipment are ready for whatever Mother Nature brings.
For more tips, visit progress-energy.com.
Progress Energy Florida, a subsidiary of Progress Energy (NYSE: PGN), provides electricity and related services to more than 1.6 million customers in Florida. The company is headquartered in St. Petersburg, Fla., and serves a territory encompassing more than 20,000 square miles, including the cities of St. Petersburg and Clearwater, as well as the Central Florida area surrounding Orlando. Progress Energy Florida is pursuing a balanced approach to meeting the future energy needs of the region. That balance includes increased energy-efficiency programs, investments in renewable energy technologies and a state-of-the-art electricity system. For more information about Progress Energy, visit www.progress-energy.com.