FPL spent $3B in preparation for Irma but millions of customers still lost power

"There is no such thing as a hurricane-proof system:" FPL spokesperson Peter Robbins

An electrician works to fix a traffic light during the power outage caused by Hurricane Irma (Credit: Getty)
An electrician works to fix a traffic light during the power outage caused by Hurricane Irma (Credit: Getty)

Over the past decade, Florida Power & Light spent about $3 billion on projects to strengthen the electrical grid in preparation for storms like Hurricane Irma. Despite preparations, homes across Miami-Dade and Broward counties dealt with mass power outages for more than a week after the storm.

“There is no such thing as a hurricane-proof system,” FPL spokesperson Peter Robbins told the Miami Herald. “The system has performed very well.”

Part of FPL’s efforts to prepare for hurricanes included the installation of concrete poles and underground power lines, but after Irma storm hit, about 4.4 million of 4.9 million FPL customers lost power, including 92 percent of customers in Miami-Dade County and 85 percent in Broward County. As of Wednesday, 1,780 Miami-Dade and Broward customers remained without power.

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Robbins told the Herald that the transmission systems did not fail. “We were able to get the vast majority of people’s lights back on within a few days,” he said.

Coral Gables, which threatened to sue FPL for failing to turn the lights back on for all of its residents by the previously promised deadline of Sunday night, issued the power company a citation earlier this week. FPL fired back, saying in a statement that it will not bow to pressure created by “frivolous lawsuits and ludicrous code violations” to provide “preferential treatment” to the city of Coral Gables.

A class-action lawsuit was filed on Monday against FPL, on behalf of two individuals and Florida residents who are or were without power due to Hurricane Irma. But FPL said the suit was filed by a law firm tied to Coral Gables Commissioner Frank Quesada. [Miami Herald]Grace Guarnieri