[quote] The North Carolina-based power utility is reported to be closely monitoring Hurricane Matthew, after forecasts that suggest that “Matthew will ride along the US coast from Florida through the North Carolina Outer Banks from Thursday evening through Saturday,” says CNN.
In Duke Energy’s Florida service territory, tropical force winds are currently forecasted for the Orlando, Apopka and Gainesville areas. [The most reliable US electric utility? Florida’s FPL scoops award]
As part of its preparation, the company is also reviewing supplies and staffing models in Florida and the storm centre is activated.
Alex Glenn, Duke Energy state president – Florida, said: “Duke Energy Florida line workers and additional contractor crews are prepared to respond quickly, as we did last month with Hermine, should customers lose power as a result of this deadly, powerful storm.
“If the potential impact lessens, the company will make crews available to any utility in Florida or beyond who may need help.”
The Financial Times states that due to Hurricane Matthew’s projected path, Duke Energy’s sister utilities in the Carolinas are also closely monitoring the storm and preparing for possible impacts, which may be more significant.
Preventative outage response
Duke Energy continues to perform extensive system improvements and rigorous tree trimming, wind-blown debris and flooding that can cause power outages. With regard to technology investment, Duke Energy Florida has invested nearly $2.4 billion to harden and upgrade its system since the 2004 hurricanes. In addition to trimming trees and replacing wood poles with steel or concrete, the company invested in grid automation and smart grid devices, which improve service reliability and reduce the length and number of outages year round. [Smart grid: Con Edison stormproofs Manhattan]
The Financial Times adds that after Hurricane Hermine, the new smart grid technology prevented 25,000 Duke Energy Florida customers from outages – thwarting more than 3 million customer minutes of power interruptions during the storm. So far this year, grid automation prevented more than 10 million minutes of interruption. Today, more than 20% of all Duke Energy Florida customers benefit from the technology. The company continues to expand the investment and plans to have smart grid devices installed on lines serving 35% of customers by mid-2017.