ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. - Progress Energy Florida, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, is preparing to mobilize more than 1200 off-system line and tree personnel to assist company crews if Tropical Storm Isaac affects its customers.
This weekend, crews will be traveling to staging sites across the areas expected to be affected by the storm. The storm is currently forecast to make landfall early next week, possibly as a hurricane, along the northern Gulf Coast. Winds and rains may impact the entire Gulf Coast of Florida starting as early as Sunday evening.
"We are prepared to respond to potential power outages caused by Tropical Storm Isaac," said Jason Cutliffe, storm director for Progress Energy Florida. "We make continual improvements to our power restoration efforts based on the lessons we have learned from other storms such as Tropical Storm Debby back in June. Now we are able to leverage Duke Energy's experience as well."
Progress Energy recently merged with Duke Energy to become the largest electric company in the country. The combined company expands the utility's ability to quickly plan and decisively respond to major storms such as this. The company's storm plan includes mobilizing employees to handle increased customer calls, quickly evaluate storm damage, coordinate line crew and equipment mobilization, coordinate materials required for repairs, and arrange meals and lodging for out-of-town workers.
After severe weather, Progress Energy Florida takes specific steps to restore power. Crews first assess damage and determine what personnel, equipment and supplies will be needed to make repairs.
With the Republican National Convention (RNC) beginning Sunday in the Tampa Bay area, Progress Energy Florida is coordinating with the Secret Service, local emergency management organizations, and others to help monitor the event that is bringing more than 50,000 visitors to the area.
In the event the storm interrupts service, customers can call Progress Energy Florida's automated outage reporting line at 1.800.228.8485. The automated outage reporting system is capable of handling more than 120,000 calls per hour.
In addition to its automated outage reporting phone line, the utility has online resources to allow customers to report outages using computers and compatible mobile devices.
Progress Energy encourages customers interested in using mobile devices or computers to report outages to register before a storm hits. Customers will need their account number, located on their bill, to register. For information on all of the utility's outage reporting options, visit progress-energy.com/storm.
To keep customers informed following a storm, the company has developed an online outage map showing up-to-date information about current outages and estimated restoration times. The outage map can be viewed at www.progress-energy.com/outagemap.
Progress Energy Florida also sends updates on storm-related outage restorations via Twitter and Facebook. Customers can follow the utility at www.twitter.com/ProgEnergyFL and www.facebook.com/ProgressEnergyFlorida.
Progress Energy Florida offers the following storm safety tips:
When the storm threatens
- Progress Energy Florida has a storm information website for customers. The site, http://www.progress-energy.com/storm, has information for customers on how to prepare for major storms and what they can do if a power outage occurs as a result of a storm. Customers should log on before the storm hits and print information they can reference during the storm.
- Check supplies and make sure you have the following items: portable radio with fresh batteries, flashlights, first-aid kit, canned or packaged food that can be prepared without cooking or refrigeration, several days’ supply of drinking water (one gallon per person, per day), a full tank of gas in your car and cash.
- Unplug major non-vital appliances. Advanced surge-protection systems will protect your home from most power surges, but will not prevent damage from a direct lightning strike.
- Pay attention to local television and radio broadcasts for storm position, intensity and expected landfall.
- Prepare for high winds by boarding up windows and other glass, anchoring objects outside and bracing garage door.
- Secure boats and trailers on land and check mooring lines of boats in the water. Put important papers in watertight containers (take them if you evacuate) and move valuables to upper stories of your home.
- Fill your bathtub with water for sanitary purposes. Because water conducts electricity, it is not safe to run water during a storm.
- If you know someone who relies on electric-powered life-support equipment, be prepared to move that person to a facility outside of the storm’s projected path to avoid the risk of an extended power outage.
When the storm hits
- Stay indoors in an inside room away from doors and windows, electrical outlets and water pipes. Don’t go out in the brief calm during the eye of the storm.
- Keep television and radio tuned for information from official sources. Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
- If you evacuate, shut off gas, water and electricity (electricity can be shut off at the breaker box). Take blankets, first-aid supplies and other essential items with you to the nearest shelter.
After the storm has passed
- Never go near downed power lines. Always assume they are energized and extremely dangerous. If someone suffers an electric shock, call 911 or your local rescue squad immediately. Even minor shocks may cause serious health problems later.
- Check for electrical damage inside your home, such as frayed wires, sparks or the smell of burning insulation. If you find damage, don’t turn your power on until an electrician inspects your system and makes necessary repairs.
- Walk and drive cautiously. Watch out for debris-filled streets and weakened bridges. Snakes and insects can be a problem after storms.
- Use your emergency water supply or boil water before drinking it until local officials deem the water supply safe. Report broken sewer or water mains.
- Make temporary repairs to protect property from further damage or looting. Beware of unscrupulous contractors.
If the power goes out
- Call Progress Energy Florida at (800) 228-8485 to report a power outage. You can expedite the process by using this automated outage reporting system. Entering your phone number or Progress Energy account number in the system ensures that we know about your outage and will capture that information in the company’s restoration plans. Once restoration time estimates are developed, those estimates will also be available to you through the automated system.
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Food usually stays frozen about 48 hours. A refrigerator can keep food cold for about four hours. Remember, when in doubt, throw it out.
- Do not connect a generator directly to your home’s electrical system. It is dangerous to you, your neighbors and utility workers. Follow manufacturer’s directions regarding connecting appliances directly to your generator.
- In any power outage, utility crews restore service as quickly as possible, starting with the largest lines serving the most people.
For additional storm information and safety tips, visit www.progress-energy.com/storm.
Progress Energy Florida
Progress Energy Florida, a subsidiary of Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), provides electricity and related services to more than 1.6 million customers in Florida. The company is headquartered in St. Petersburg, Fla., and serves a territory encompassing more than 20,000 square miles including the cities of St. Petersburg and Clearwater, as well as the Central Florida area surrounding Orlando. Progress Energy Florida is pursuing a balanced approach to meeting the future energy needs of the region. That balance includes increased energy-efficiency programs, investments in renewable energy technologies and a state-of-the-art electricity system. More information is available at http://www.progress-energy.com/.
Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is a Fortune 250 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available at: http://www.duke-energy.com/.