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FPL Replacing Wooden Poles Ahead Of Upcoming Hurricane Season

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Florida Power & Light is working to make its energy grid stronger, in preparation for the upcoming hurricane season.

Crews were out in Hialeah Thursday installing a five-ton concrete power pole, in order to provide nearly 2,000 customers there with more reliable energy.

Pulled up by a crane, towering above the street, workers maneuvered the massive pole into place.

"It's replacing a wood pole that was formerly there," says FPL spokesperson Marie Bertot. "This new pole can withstand winds of up to 145 mph."

That's the goal for this "hardening project," as it's called. They are replacing older, less sturdy poles with ones that are stronger, more reliable, and more storm-resistant.

"We are continuously, every day, inspecting them, and replacing them in cases where they don't meet our standards any longer," explains Bertot.

That means keeping the lights on longer or bringing them back quicker in case of severe weather.

This is made possible with the help of the latest technology, like drones.

Outfitted with cameras, the drones survey the line to provide specialists with an up-close view with their feet still on the ground.

"This is allowing us to do inspections much safer and faster than traditional methods," says FPL drone pilot, Heath McLemore.

FPL says they want to build on the work they have done, after calling 2019 their best year yet by making the power grid smarter and stronger.

"Our customers had less flickers and less power interruptions than ever before, and it's because of projects like this," Bertot says.

In the hardening project, 50 percent of their 1.2 million distribution poles, like this one, are complete.

That means they are replaced with concrete ones or the lines are brought underground.

Since 2006, FPL has invested about $5 billion into improving its grid system.


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