Public power utilities preparing for hurricane season
Hurricane season is officially upon us. While many Florida residents are preparing by restocking hurricane supplies and assembling hurricane kits, Florida’s Public Power utilities have been working throughout the year to prepare for what is expected to be another active hurricane season.
Clearing trees and branches away from power lines, inspecting and replacing utility poles, strengthening, and upgrading electrical substations and conducting hurricane simulations are all part of the routine preventive measures utilities take to minimize outages when a major weather event occurs.
Florida Public Power utilities have exercised their disaster plans and remain at ready to respond to any emergency. The Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA) also recently held its annual Hurricane & Storm Preparedness Forum – a one-day event on hurricane preparedness and response, mutual aid, FEMA reimbursement processes, and other disaster and emergency response related issues, which also provides an opportunity for Florida Public Power utilities to share best practices and lessons learned in previous storms with each other.
Despite all the planning, preparing and past experience, Florida and other states often in the path of hurricanes are facing a new challenge this hurricane season.
We’ve all been impacted by it – at the grocery store, at restaurants and at car lots. Issues with the supply chain have affected everything from baby formula to car parts. Utilities are also feeling the strain of global supply chain disruptions, spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic and exacerbated by ongoing materials and labor shortages.
Supplies of critical electric components like transformers, cable and wire, and other materials are lower than typical, as electric utilities across the U.S. experience longer-than-usual delivery times from manufacturers and growing demand as new development is increasing across the state.
Public power utilities are working through the ongoing supply chain challenges by boosting inventory levels, placing additional orders into next year and expanding communications with local developers. However, as hurricane season approaches, supply chain delays are limiting the normal surplus of restoration materials, such as transformers, utilities typically have on hand at the beginning of the storm season. In what is predicted to be another above-average year for hurricanes, if Florida is hit with multiple storms, supply chain delays could present additional problems in power restoration efforts.
As the association that has represented the interests of Florida’s Public Power utilities for 80 years, it is, and always has been, FMEA’s top priority to protect the needs of FMEA member utilities and the communities we serve.
FMEA is taking action to help minimize the impact supply chain disruptions have on public power utilities and our ability to respond to and provide expeditious power restoration during hurricane season.
Even with the challenges ahead, Florida Public Power utilities remain committed to restoring customers’ power as quickly and safely as possible this hurricane season. We encourage all Floridians to prepare now for the unexpected.
Amy Zubaly is the executive director of the Florida Municipal Electric Association, which represents 33 public power communities across the state.