Duke Energy Florida urges customers to prepare for Tropical Storm Elsa

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., July 4, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Duke Energy Florida is preparing for Tropical Storm Elsa and is urging customers to prepare as well.

Company meteorologists are tracking the storm and crews are preparing to safely and quickly respond if the storm impacts Duke Energy Florida’s service area.

Tropical Storm Elsa could potentially strengthen and bring heavy rainfall, strong winds and localized flooding to portions of the company’s service area.

Placing crews near areas that will likely be affected by this system will allow for the most rapid response after a storm passes through.

“Duke Energy is committed to restoring power as safely and quickly as possible, while keeping customers informed throughout the process,” said Melissa Seixas Duke Energy Florida state president. “We prepare year-round and continuously modernize the grid to keep the lights on, but tropical weather events like Elsa bring wind-blown debris and flooding that can cause outages. We are prepared for those conditions and encourage our customers to continue monitoring the storm.”

In advance of the storm, Duke Energy will move power utility crews and resources so they are staged in areas and ready to help restore power as soon as it is safe to do so.

In addition, line technicians and workers are checking equipment, supplies and inventories to ensure adequate materials are available to make repairs and restore power outages.

Restoring power after a storm can be extremely challenging for utility repair crews, as travel and work conditions can be impacted by high winds, downed trees and flooding – making repair work lengthy and difficult.

Before bulk power can be restored, crews first must assess the extent of damage – which can take 24 hours or more – to determine which crews, equipment and supplies will be needed before repairs can begin.

Strengthening the grid

In addition to trimming trees and inspecting and replacing wires and wood poles, the company has invested in grid automation and smart technologies to reduce the duration and number of outages and restore service faster when outages occur.

Duke Energy’s smart-thinking grid automatically detects outages and intelligently reroutes power to speed restoration or avoid outages altogether. In 2020, smart, self-healing technology helped to avoid nearly 290,000 extended outages in Florida, saving customers around 18.9 million minutes of service interruption, nearly double the hours saved in 2019. Over the next few years, Duke Energy expects to install enough self-healing technology to serve most customers.

After a storm, Duke Energy crews must physically inspect miles of power line to ensure everyone’s power is restored. It’s time consuming, but Duke Energy crews now can use a technology called Ping-it to remotely check that service has been restored following repairs. Ping-it sends a signal to each meter in a few seconds to confirm repairs were successful. In Florida, Duke Energy has installed nearly 2 million smart meters that enable this technology

Safety information

Duke Energy has made changes to the way it responds to major storms to promote the safety of crews and communities during COVID-19. Many of those process modifications and improvements will continue during the 2021 storm season. For more information, please see dukeenergyupdates.com.

The safety of our customers and communities is important. Duke Energy encourages customers to have a plan in place to respond to an extended power outage after a hurricane or other severe weather. Below are some tips:

Before the storm

  • Create (or update) an emergency supply kit to save valuable time later. The kit should include everything an individual or family would need for at least two weeks, especially medicines, water, non-perishable foods and other supplies that might be hard to find after a storm hits. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has relaxed some of its guidance for vaccinated individuals, an emergency kit should still include items that can help protect you and others from COVID-19, such as hand sanitizer, bar or liquid soap, and face coverings aligned with CDC guidance.
  • Keep a portable radio or TV or a NOAA weather radio on hand to monitor weather forecasts and important information from state and local officials.
  • Charge cellphones, computers and other electronic devices in advance of storms to stay connected to important safety and response information. Consider purchasing portable chargers and make sure they are fully charged as well.
  • Maintain a plan to move family members – especially those with special needs – to a safe, alternative location in case an extended power outage occurs or evacuation is required.
  • Pet owners should arrange to stay at evacuation shelters that accept pets; friends’ or family members’ homes; or pet-friendly hotels.

After the storm

  • Stay away from power lines that have fallen or are sagging. Consider all lines energized, as well as trees, limbs or anything in contact with lines.
  • If a power line falls across a car that you are in, stay in the car. If you MUST get out of the car due to a fire or other immediate life-threatening situation, do your best to jump clear of the car and land on both feet. Be sure that no part of your body is touching the car when your feet touch the ground.
  • If you need to go to a disaster shelter, follow CDC recommendations for staying safe and healthy in a public disaster shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more tips on how to prepare for storm season, and how Duke Energy can help, please visit duke-energy.com/StormTips.

For storm or power restoration updates, follow Duke Energy on Twitter (@DukeEnergy) and Facebook (Duke Energy). A checklist serves as a helpful guide, but it’s critical before, during and after a storm to follow the instructions and warnings of emergency management officials in your area.

Outage reporting

While residents of coastal areas are most at risk of being affected by hurricanes, such storms also can bring damaging high winds and rain inland. Before the storm hits, customers should contact us to make sure their contact information is up to date and their communication preferences are noted, so they receive proactive outreach on the status on a power outage they may experience. Customers who experience an outage during a storm can report it the following ways:

  • Use the Duke Energy mobile app – Download the Duke Energy App from a smartphone via Apple Store or Google Play.
  • Text OUT to 57801 (standard text and data charges may apply).
  • Call the automated outage-reporting system, at: 800.228.8485 
  • Customer service specialists will be available to manage customer calls should the need arise, with more than 1,500 additional corporate responders from across all Duke Energy jurisdictions available to assist as needed.

Duke Energy Florida

Duke Energy Florida, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, owns a diverse generation mix of natural gas, coal and renewables, providing about 10,200 megawatts of owned electric capacity to approximately 1.9 million customers in a 13,000-square-mile service area.

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of America’s largest energy holding companies. Its electric utilities serve 7.9 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, and collectively own 51,000 megawatts of energy capacity. Its natural gas unit serves 1.6 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The company employs 27,500 people.

Duke Energy is executing an aggressive clean energy strategy to create a smarter energy future for its customers and communities – with goals of at least a 50 percent carbon reduction by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The company is a top U.S. renewable energy provider, on track to operate or purchase 16,000 megawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2025. The company also is investing in major electric grid upgrades and expanded battery storage, and exploring zero-emitting power generation technologies such as hydrogen and advanced nuclear.

Duke Energy was named to Fortune’s 2021 “World’s Most Admired Companies” list and Forbes’ “America’s Best Employers” list. More information is available at duke-energy.com. The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos and videos. Duke Energy’s illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. Follow Duke Energy on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.

Media contact: Ana Gibbs
Cell: 813.928.7263
Media line: 800.559.3853

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SOURCE Duke Energy

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