Gulf Power is holding its annual Storm Dry Run event May 3-7, an intensive weeklong session of hurricane restoration drills in which all employees respond to a hypothetical hurricane. The annual drill will include joint operations and collaboration with Florida Power & Light Company, whom Gulf Power officially merged with earlier this year, providing an opportunity to further refine operational efficiencies achieved in 2020 during the most active hurricane season on record.
“During last year’s historic hurricane season – including a direct hit from Hurricane Sally in our service area – we exercised our well-proven restoration processes and procedures and leveraged resources from our FPL family while responding to additional challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mike Spoor, vice president of Gulf Power. “Every Gulf Power employee has a storm assignment and our annual hurricane drill serves as an opportunity to continue to practice, evaluate and improve upon our response plans so that we are ready to be there for our customers no matter what storm comes our way.”
Preparations include continuous improvements to energy grid
Gulf Power and FPL prepare for hurricanes and severe weather by continuously improving the energy grid to make it stronger, smarter and more storm-resilient. Between 2020-22, Gulf Power is investing nearly $250 million in storm hardening and reliability improvement efforts that help to reduce the frequency and duration of outages in good weather and bad:
- Long-term storm hardening efforts include replacing wooden transmission structures with concrete or steel; hardening the distribution main power lines to extreme wind loading criteria; and the undergrounding of certain lines that will go beyond 2022.
- Reliability improvements underway include the installation of automated lateral switches and other smart devices to create additional self-healing networks, assessing the condition of power lines and other infrastructure using drones, clearing vegetation and continuing to work with FPL to implement best practices to improve the customer experience.
Gulf Power provided its customers with the most reliable service in the company’s history in 2020 and has improved reliability by 50% over the past two years, due in large part to the company’s continuing investments to make the energy grid stronger, smarter and more reliable. In 2020, the company was awarded the ReliabilityOne® Award for Outstanding Reliability Performance in the Southeast suburban/rural service area, presented by PA Consulting to recognize the best suburban/rural service area investor-owned utilities in the United States.
Protecting employees and customers during the COVID-19 pandemic
Gulf Power continues to take precautions to ensure employees and customers stay safe during the restoration process, including:
- Daily health screenings before going to work to restore power after a hurricane.
- Altering the layout of staging sites to account for social distancing and limited interaction.
- Providing masks and sanitizing materials to crews, such as hand sanitizer, disinfectant spray and wipes.
- Implementing extensive cleaning and sanitization measures at staging sites and command centers to protect personnel supporting the restoration effort.
- Minimizing the movement of crews; as much as possible, Gulf Power will keep the same crews assigned to the same work areas.
- Where possible, having employees work remotely.
How to stay informed
Gulf Power provides information to customers to help them prepare for hurricane season and communicates with them after a severe weather event. The easiest way to stay informed and report an outage after a severe weather event is the Gulf Power mobile app. Customers can also download the Gulf Power app for on-the-go, instant and secure access to their accounts. The app is available for download free in the iOS App Store or Google Play Store.
Gulf Power communicates information to customers frequently through the news media and the following resources: