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Power Factbox: Power Outages Near 6.7 Million in Alabama, Georgia, Florida

Houston (Platts)--12 Sep 2017 12:21 am EDT/16:21 GMT

Hurricane Irma and its aftermath continued to sow destruction and cut power for millions of customers across the Southeast Monday, substantially reducing demand for electricity and natural gas, even as repair crews started to ramp up restoration efforts.


At around 3 pm EDT, and utilities serving Alabama, Florida and Georgia reported almost 6.7 million customers without power, up from less than 6.1 million as of 10 am EDT, including the following:

* Florida Power & Light: 3,468,170

* Duke Energy: 1,188,175

*Georgia Power: 748,215

* Tampa Electric: 333,500

* Jacksonville Electric Authority: 246,269

* Clay Electric Coop: 145,648

* Orlando Utilities Commission: 130,713

* SECO Energy: 106,383

* Withlacoochee River Electric Coop: 57,895

* Alabama Power: 45,000

* Gainesville Regional Utilities: 39,639

* Tallahassee city utilities: 34,853

* Keys Energy Services: 28,567

* Talquin Electric Coop: 27,859

* Central Florida Electric Coop: 25,604

* Suwannee Valley Electric Coop: 22,454

* Peace River Electric Coop: 20,213

* Tri-County Electric Coop: 14,301

* Lakeland Electric: 2,709

* West Florida Electric: 1,892

* Gulf Coast Electric Coop and Gulf Power, combined: 1,233


The outage map for Florida Keys Electric Cooperative Association, which has about 32,000 customers, was inaccessible Monday afternoon.


Restoration Efforts

* The Edison Electric Institute Monday said the storm is likely to require "one of the largest industry restoration efforts in US history," and some places will require entire system rebuilds, which could resulted in "extended power outages."

"Given the size and strength of Irma -- and the damage left in her wake -- the electric power industry is mounting a nationwide, industry-wide response to restore power," EEI said. "An army of at least 50,000 workers from across the United States and Canada is dedicated to supporting the industry's Irma restoration efforts at this time."

* AccuWeather estimates damage from Irma to be about $100 billion," President Joel Myers said late Sunday. In combination with Myers' previous estimate of Hurricane Harvey's cost of $190 billion, the two storms' impact could equal 1.5% of GDP, "which will about equal and therefore counter the natural growth of the economy for the period of Mid-August through the end of the fourth quarter," he said in a statement.

* The US Environmental Protection Agency on Monday announced it will allow all Florida power plants to operate without meeting all pollution controls in order to maintain the supply of electricity to customers and critical facilities across the state as a result of Hurricane Irma. The no action assurance will terminate on September 26.

This "no action assurance" letter was issued in response a request from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and in concurrence with an emergency authorization FDEP issued on September 10, allowing electric generating utilities across the state to deviate from permit and certification requirements.

* Florida Power & Light: Eric Silagy, FPL president and CEO, said Monday morning that the NextEra Energy unit's nearly 19,500 workers had already restored power to more than 1 million of its customers, but the storm was not yet done with Florida.

"We still have customers in northern Florida that are still losing power because of tropical storm-force winds," Silagy said.

As of about 2 pm, FPl's outage map showed about 3.5 million customers without power out of the 4.5 million that had lost service due to the storm.

"This frankly is unprecedented," Silagy said. "We've never had this many outages. I don't think any utility in the country ever has. It's by far and away the largest in the history of our company. Irma ... has impacted all 27,000 square miles and 35 counties that we serve in Florida."

FPL's repair crews work out of about 30 staging sites across Florida -- small cities where crews are housed, fed and resupplied, Silagy said.

"This is a military-type operation," he said. "It takes 200,000 gallons of fuel a day to keep this army running."

* Duke Energy Florida: The company is mobilizing nearly 9,000 line workers and other personnel to assess and repair damage, spokeswoman Erin Culbert said Monday.

"This clearly was a devastating hurricane for Florida," Culbert said in an email. "We are assessing damage as it is safe for crews to travel and are beginning to restore power as we can."

Natural Gas Demand

Southeast natural gas demand for power generation began fall even as Hurricane Irma approached the Florida Coast. Southeast power demand declined 883 MMcf/d Friday, falling farther Saturday and Sunday to its current 5.7 Bcf/d for Monday, according to Platts Analytics Bentek Energy. This is about a 3.1 Bcf/d decline over the week prior to the storm, as well as 2.6 Bcf/d below the five-year average for September.

Sample power demand in Florida itself fell significantly as the storm hit. Currently, the Florida power sample is down to 2.3 Bcf/d, a 1.3 Bcf/d decline over the seven day average prior to the storm. Little movement was seen in the other demand sectors in Florida.

Transcontinental Pipe Line deliveries to Sabal Trail, as well as throughput on Gulfstream Natural Gas and Florida Gas Transmission moving gas into Florida all declined over the weekend, falling 229 MMcf/d, 1.1 Bcf/d, and 354 MMcf/d, respectively.

Nuclear Units' Status

* Turkey Point: One unit, the 885-MW Turkey Point-3, was shut preventively on Saturday, at which point the utility decided not to shut the Turkey Point-4 unit, also 885 MW, when new forecasts suggested there would not be hurricane-force winds at the site in Homestead, Florida, south of Miami.

US Nuclear Regulatory Commission rules require nuclear units to be shut at least two hours before such winds.

However, in a report to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Sunday, FPL said operators did manually shut Turkey Point-4 at 6:55 pm EDT Sunday due to the failure of a valve connected to a steam generator at the reactor. The company is investigating the cause of the valve failure, it added.

* St. Lucie: FPL said in a separate report to NRC that it was not planning to shut the two St. Lucie units, with a total capacity of 2,213 MW, because revised forecasts no longer called for hurricane-force winds to affect the site in Jensen Beach, Florida, about 150 miles north along the Atlantic Coast from Homestead.

However, one unit at St. Lucie was shut Monday, Silagy said. NRC said in a blog post Monday that St. Lucie-1 was reducing power because of salt buildup on insulators in the plant switchyard. St. Lucie-2 remains at full power, NRC said.

It takes about a day to restart nuclear units because of a long checklist of safety-related actions that must be taken before they resume generation, Silagy said. He did not provide an estimate for when the three units would return to service.


Related Power Factboxes:

Gas and Power Factbox: May Take 'Weeks, if not Longer' to Rebuild Grid Post-Irma: FPL - 8 Sep 2017

Power Factbox: Utilities' Power Restoration Progresses After Harvey - 5 Sep 2017

Power Factbox: Harvey Boosting East Texas, La. Outages - 30 Aug 2017