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Tallahassee Democrat: Your local electric utility is prepared for any storm

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

We’re still in the peak period of the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season, which will run through Nov. 30.

While it’s been almost a decade since a hurricane made landfall in Florida, your local electric utility is still highly aware of the damage a hurricane can inflict, so it goes to great lengths to be prepared.

Preparation is key. Utilities have invested money to strengthen their electric system so the system is strong and ready when severe weather strikes. This can result in less damage and fewer electricity outages. Hardening activities include inspecting and replacing weak power poles, trimming trees away from power lines and installing new equipment.

These investments in the local utility can pay off not only during hurricane season, but throughout the year. After any storm that results in electricity outages, local electric crews are here in your community to respond quickly and safely.

Statistics show locally owned utilities shine at providing reliable electricity. Statewide averages for utilities show that customers of community-owned utilities enjoy quicker repairs times and shorter outages. Municipal utilities have led the way among all electric utilities with the shortest average repair time for the past 11 years. This is an important measure of reliability that your local lineworkers, and all your electric utility staff, takes pride in.

To prepare for the worst, your hometown utility partners with 33 other cities around the state in a mutual aid agreement. When any utility calls, the others agree to support your local utility with workers and equipment. This makes the restoration process go faster and the lights come back on quicker.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted a 90 percent chance of a below-normal hurricane activity this season, and we hope that holds true. Nevertheless, we want you to know that your hometown utility has the community power and statewide strength to provide reliable service in any season.

And, just as we spend our time throughout the year preparing, we encourage you to do the same. Well in advance of an approaching storm, create a hurricane survival kit that includes: first aid supplies; drinking water (at least one gallon/person/day); batteries; flashlights; battery powered radio; manual can opener; prescriptions; baby food and diapers; pet food; canned foods; cash; tarps; rope; bleach; trash bags; charcoal or gas grill with plenty of fuel; wooden kitchen matches; and a portable cooler.

Be sure to know where area shelters are located in case you need them and visit to determine your hurricane evacuation route. Prior to a storm, identify the places around your home where you can shut off your gas, water and electricity. In an emergency, you might need to turn them off quickly.

We all play a role in preparing for the possibility of severe weather and your local utility is proud to be your community partner in this endeavor.

Nick Guarriello is the general manager and CEO of the Florida Municipal Power Agency. Barry Moline is the executive director of the Florida Municipal Electric Association.

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