As South Florida approaches the height of the 2017 hurricane season, Florida Power & Light is finishing up a new service center officials say will speed up response time.
“Our restoration specialists will be in the best possible positions to get the lights back on as soon as possible,” said FPL spokesman Chris McGrath.
Scheduled for completion in the fall, the new 25,000-square-foot building on the southwest corner of Delaware Boulevard and Indiantown Road is designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane.
The project is part of FPL’s overall plan to improve service center buildings and equipment to improve response time for repairs in it’s 35-county service area. Similar improvements are being made to FPL’s service center near Old Boynton Beach Road west of Interstate 95 in Boynton Beach.
The former service center in Jupiter was demolished. The new two-story FPL building is four times as large.
Up to about 100 “storm riders” will be able to stay at the new building. The repair and engineering crews will stay in the building overnight during emergencies.
“Having our restoration specialists at the service center allows them to get closer to the damage and make repairs,” said McGrath.
Juno Beach-based FPL has invested more than $3 billion since 2006 to build what it calls a stronger, smarter and more storm-resilient energy grid. FPL said it restored more than 1 million customer interruptions less than 48 hours after Hurricane Matthew exited the area.
Matthew, which was a Category 4 as it skirted Palm Beach County’s coast, then traveled up the state’s east coast, was the 10th most destructive storm in U.S. history.
In Palm Beach County, 49,000 people in mobile or manufactured homes, and 90,000 who live on barrier islands or along some areas of the Intracoastal, were asked to evacuate for Matthew.
Improved equipment, which is designed to withstand more severe weather conditions, performed approximately 1 1/2 times better during Matthew. No poles along FPL’s transmission or distribution network failed because of wind from Matthew. Any damage to FPL electrical equipment was due largely to debris and fallen trees and limbs, according to FPL.
The Jupiter plan calls for a driveway for trucks and other service vehicles on Delaware Boulevard. The town’s planning staff recommended against the driveway.
There will be no gas stored at the new building. After a storm, company fuel trucks will arrive to provide gasoline to the trucks staged there.