FPL expands rollout of auto transformer switches


Florida Power & Light (FPL) is set to install “auto transformer switches” across the state, following a 2018 pilot that resulted in a “significant reduction” in temporary power outages.

The “auto transformer switch” automatically resets transformers after an interference. An outage caused by a simple vegetation issue for instance, could typically only be fixed once a lineman was on site, but the new switches which replace standard fuses in transformers, mean that outages will be much shorter.

FPL is set to continue testing, and installation of the first batch of switches will commence in the second quarter of 2019.

The utility is tight-lipped regarding the cost of the unit, but utility spokesperson Bill Orlove confirmed that customers won’t be footing the bill.

According to FPL’s senior vice president of power delivery, Manny Miranda, the utility has been upgrading the electric grid since Hurricane Wilma hit the state in 2005, which resulted in FPL customers going without power for up to two weeks. Vegetation-related issues such as falling trees and palm fronds were the cause of major disruptions during 2017’s Hurricane Irma.

The utility has installed over 80 000 automated lateral switches according to Miranda, which he says resulted in a 40 percent reduction in permanent outages and 50 percent in temporary outages.

The utility’s newest device, the auto transformer switch, is made by S&C Electric Co.

Kyle Seymour, president and CEO of S&C, said the two companies have been working together on grid technologies for years.

“At the heart of relationship is a common goal: to increase the reliability of the electric grid while reducing the cost of operating it.” Seymour said.

Seymour said he has told FPL that S&C will produce as many devices as FPL needs. “We hope to have quite a number of these devices in place by hurricane season,” he said.