Florida Municipal Electric Association Announces Annual “Restoring Communities Award” Winners

Posted By: Garnie Holmes

FMEA Restoring Commuinities Award

The Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA) today announced its annual “Restoring Communities Awards,” which recognizes public power utilities that have either provided or received mutual aid following significant weather events, or other emergency situations, in and out of state, to fellow public power partners in need.

This year, 13 Florida public power utilities were honored for their efforts to restore power quickly and safely when called on. During 2020, Florida public power utilities provided mutual aid assistance to other communities, both in and out of state, following hurricanes, tornadoes, storms and other emergency situations.

Receiving awards were:

  • Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU)
  • City of Tallahassee
  • Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC)
  • Town of Havana
  • JEA (Jacksonville)
  • Lakeland Electric
  • Kissimmee Utility Authority (KUA)
  • Utilities Commission of New Smyrna Beach (UCNSB)
  • Fort Pierce Utilities Authority (FPUA)
  • City of Homestead
  • Keys Energy Services
  • Beaches Energy Services (serving Jacksonville, Neptune and Ponte Vedra Beaches)
  • Ocala Electric Utility

“The utilities celebrated today went above and beyond to help public power communities in need, and to make matters more challenging, did so during a pandemic. While we’re happy to put 2020 behind us, we will not forget our members’ level of service and commitment to powering our communities,” said Allen Putnam, FMEA President and Utilities Director of Beaches Energy Services. “Whether utilities are responding to their neighboring community or venturing into other states, mutual aid has and will continue to uplift public power everywhere.”

Despite the pandemic, Florida’s public power communities provided mutual aid to other communities nearly a dozen times between February and December, most recently on Christmas morning following severe storms across Florida. While the coronavirus posed new obstacles for linemen and other utility personnel, Florida public power utilities remained diligent in providing assistance to fellow public power communities. FMEA members followed enhanced health and safety guidelines with the welfare of utility personnel and the public top of mind as they traveled between regions restoring power.

“The public power utilities honored today truly embody the dedication and neighborly spirit of mutual aid,” said Amy Zubaly, FMEA Executive Director. “While 2020 seemed to unfold with challenge after challenge, our public power members adapted quickly to respond to partners in need. Many of our members responded to back-to-back events that kept them away from their homes and families for weeks at a time, but they answer the call for help every time, even on Christmas day.”

The awards are sponsored by Burns and McDonnell, a full-service engineering, architecture, construction, environmental and consulting solutions firm.

Public power utilities can call on each other for emergency workers and supplies through mutual aid agreements. These dependable connections have created a reliable system where member utilities both request and offer assistance, coordinated through FMEA. Mutual aid agreements are also in place with electric cooperatives and Florida’s investor-owned utilities in order to draw upon additional resources.

Municipal electric utilities provide affordable, reliable electric service, and have been doing so for more than a century. As community-owned and locally managed organizations, these utilities are able to focus on the unique needs and interests of their customers and have nimble and quick response times all while investing back into their communities.