Gulf Power is continuing to strengthen the grid to improve reliability in both good weather and bad with a major project on a transmission power line in Pensacola, as well as other projects throughout Northwest Florida.
The transmission project in Pensacola kicked off at the beginning of the year by replacing wooden poles with 25 concrete poles over an eight-mile stretch of transmission lines located near Gulf Power’s Plant Crist. This summer, the second phase of the project began, which will increase the capacity of the line as well as replace wooden poles with 70 concrete poles. The new concrete poles are 100 to 140 feet tall / up to four feet wide and are built to withstand winds of up to 140 mph.
“As part of the Florida Power & Light family, we’re committed to improving reliability – which is already the best it has been – in both good weather and bad for our customers,” said Mike Spoor, vice president of power delivery for Gulf Power. “We know how important reliable service is for our customers, especially during this time, and we’re continuing to invest in hardening and other upgrades that will make our electric system stronger and more resilient during hurricane season.”
This project is upgrading a section of transmission line that comes out of Gulf Power’s Plant Crist, north of Pensacola, which is currently undergoing a modernization to convert from coal as its main fuel source to cleaner, lower-cost natural gas. When complete, the Plant Crist modernization will lower carbon emissions at the site by an estimated 40%.
The transmission upgrade project is part of Gulf Power’s plan to spend approximately $600 million through 2022 in capital investments to improve reliability, bring cleaner energy to Northwest Florida and enhance service for customers. Other similar transmission upgrade projects this year are underway in the Shalimar/Niceville area and Panama City that will add resiliency and storm harden infrastructure.
Gulf Power has already upgraded more than 170 wooden transmission structures to concrete or steel, with more planned for replacement in the coming years. Other storm hardening and reliability improvement projects include regular vegetation management trimming cycles, using drones to inspect lines to detect possible issues before they occur and the installation of automated lateral switches to isolate outages and restore power more quickly.