With Hurricane Ian approaching, the Florida network should learn from the lessons of the past

As Florida prepares for what it could have The first major hurricane Where Irma in 2017 And the Michael in 2018People watch the storm approach and worry about its impact on their lives and the lives of their families. Part of their concerns lie with the storm’s potential effects on the system they rely on for their electrical service.

Today, more than ever, people depend on the power grid for lighting, health, convenience, and telecommunications—with Florida being a leading state in terms of Electric vehicle adoption – Even transportation. People have seen this outage in the past, and they are rightly asking what the tool, the regulator, and the government are doing to make this system more secure.

In fact, much has been done since those storms to build a more resilient network. We may soon find out where we stand.

The approaching storm highlights two unfortunate truths about the power system: There is no way to completely isolate the grid from interaction with the environment — and people ultimately pay all the costs of providing and improving utility services. Given this last point, achieving zero outage outage is not feasible given the cost.

The origins of the current Florida storm preparedness process can be traced back to Stormy Seasons 2004 and 2005, when 10 named storms affected the state, causing $28 billion in property damage. In January 2006, Florida Public Service Commission FPSC has held a series of workshops with state and local government officials, independent technical experts, and electric utility representatives. The purpose of this workshop was to discuss the damage to electrical facilities caused by recent hurricanes and to explore ways to mitigate the effects of future storm damage and customer outages.

In April 2006, the Public Utilities Management Council (FPSC) issued an order requiring each facility to submit a plan, and associated implementation costs, for a storm preparedness program with initiatives that included vegetation management plans, inspection programs for transmission and distribution poles, and increased coordination with local governments And collect detailed data on power outages.

Before every next storm season, all the facilities come together Plenary Sessions at FPSC To discuss what has been done to strengthen the network, how it works, and their plans for future improvements. In this forum, if there’s anything Duke Energy can learn from the Orlando Utilities Commission or the Lee County Electric Cooperative of Florida Power and Light, it’s their opportunity. These meetings continued annually, even during the ten-year period when Florida was not affected by any major hurricanes.

Florida Legislature Refine the storm hardening process more When it created a storm protection clause in 2019. This legislation sets out a separate cost recovery clause for future storm-hardening projects approved by FPSC, rather than the facility reimbursing those costs through its base rates.

Florida utilities have been involved in projects such as redundant vegetation management practices, system-wide inspection programs for power poles, smart grid technologies that allow utilities to redirect energy to compensate for parts of the system affected by storms and selective grounding for power lines through these state initiatives.

This process has also highlighted the difficulties in adopting a proactive approach to storm preparedness. It’s tempting to wonder what resources were expended to prepare for storms when they go so long, as Florida did, without storms. People may wonder why these resources are not used to address another, more pressing issue.

But utility system transformations take time — and during the event, all efforts are focused on damage assessment and storm recovery. The period between storms is the only time we have to address efforts to make them stronger.

There are costs associated with these efforts, and these costs are ultimately borne by individuals, and everyone involved in the industry must do their best to ensure that people get a fair value for the costs they incur. These costs are manifested through changes in electricity prices or through losses in quality or access to service. It is ultimately up to the regulator and the government to decide how and when they will pay. But a transparent system for evaluating grid strengthening strategies, and ensuring that these strategies are cost-effective, will promote a stronger and sustainable electricity system.

Theodore J. Currie He is the Director of Energy Studies for Public Utilities Research Center at the University of Florida’s Warrington School of Business.

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