Gulf Power watching and preparing for Hurricane Irma
While much of central and southern Florida brace for Hurricane Irma’s landfall later this weekend, Gulf Power is ready should the powerful Category 5 storm change its track towards Northwest Florida. If the hurricane remains on the current track, Gulf Power crews are ready to deploy to help with power restoration across the southeast.
“Hurricane Irma is a very powerful storm and we are monitoring the forecast tracks — right now, it looks like it will impact the Florida peninsula and skirt up the east coast, but things can change in an instant,” said Rick DelaHaya, Gulf Power spokesperson. “Our crews are ready in case it does shift toward us or if we are needed to help with restoration efforts for other energy providers.”
Gulf Power has been monitoring Irma since before it became the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history and is maintaining a watch on the storm’s path. As a part of Southern Company, Gulf Power has the strength, backing and resources from Georgia Power, Alabama Power and Mississippi Power. With the full available resources of Southern Company, Gulf Power could count on nearly 1,700 crew members, as part of a first wave, should they be needed here in Northwest Florida. This would include lineworkers, tree trimming crews and support personnel.
Even though Gulf Power’s customers haven’t experienced a hurricane in more than 10 years, the energy company’s crews have had plenty of storm restoration practice — they’ve traveled more than 36 times to 14 different states since 2008, assisting in power restoration efforts after storms such as Superstorm Sandy that hit the Northeast Atlantic coast in 2012 and after the devastating tornadoes that hit Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in 2011.
In 2016, Gulf Power responded to the City of Tallahassee and Georgia Power following Hurricane Hermine’s landfall. A month later, Gulf Power storm teams responded rapidly to calls for aid from Florida Public Utilities and Georgia Power, assisting with recovery operations following Hurricane Matthew. For these efforts, Gulf Power was awarded the Edison Electric Institute Assistance Award or its extraordinary work assisting in power restoration efforts in a neighboring or nearby electric company.
Gulf Power also conducts yearly exercises to ensure all team members are ready and to practice their storm-related duties. In May, the energy provider practiced a day-long exercise simulating a Category 2 hurricane making landfall in Northwest Florida and again in July.
“Our Gulf Power team trains and prepares for these storm events that have such a large impact on our communities and our customer’s lives,” said DelaHaya. “Our team works hard to cultivate what we call a ‘culture of preparedness.’ This culture has served our communities well in previous successful storm restoration events.”
Along with crew and team member preparedness, Gulf Power has also invested more than $225 million in storm hardening projects across the region. With recent and ongoing storm hardening, substation upgrades and upgrading infrastructure using the latest technologies to reduce power outages, Gulf Power customers are enjoying fewer outages than in any time in recent history. In fact, investments in the power grid have improved reliability for the utility’s 455,000 customers.
“The key to keeping reliability high for customers is investing in technology, maintenance and upgrades,” added DelaHaya. “Making sure our customers can count on us for reliable energy is very important, and the investments we continue to make in our system are paying off.”
Customers can get more storm preparation information on the Gulf Power Storm Ready Center webpage.
How customers can connect with us:
• To get the latest updates on outages, customers can download Gulf Power’s app and access the outage map for the latest restoration information. The app is free and available for iPhone and Android. Just search for “Gulf Power” in iTunes or the Google Play Store.
• Sign up for free PowerOut alerts through your cell phone by texting REG to MyGulf (694853). Or, visit the Preference Center in the My Account area of MyGulfPower.com to choose whether to receive texts, emails or phone calls with outage updates.
• Gulf Power knows when your power is out. However, you can call 1-800-487-6937 if you have any questions about your outage.
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