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Southeastern utilities brace for Hurricane Matthew

Florida Power& Light Co. anticipates that up to 2.5 million of its roughly4.8 million customers could lose power and sustain damage from Hurricane Matthew,the utility said Oct. 6. The storm is expected to hit the state late Oct. 6 andhug the coast for most of Oct. 7 before moving up the Atlantic coast.

More than 2 million people from the Florida barrier islands,coastal Georgia and South Carolina have been ordered to evacuate, with statesof emergency declared in those states, according to AccuWeather.

As of 2 p.m. ET on Oct. 6, FPL was reporting 7,440 customerswithout power in Miami-Dade County, 1,720 customers without power in BrowardCounty and 1,320 customers without power in Palm Beach County as the outerbands of the storm began to hit southeastern Florida.

"Depending upon Matthew'sultimate path and intensity, damage to our electrical infrastructure will beextensive," FPL President and CEO Eric Silagy said in a news release. "Theimpacts of this storm will far exceed the design standards of not just the FPLsystem, but much of the design standards of homes and buildings throughout theregion. Some areas of our service territory may experience extended andrepeated outages, while others may require a total rebuild of our energyinfrastructure. The most important thing now is to ensure our customers havecompleted their final storm preparations and are ready to ride out this stormsafely."

The subsidiary said itwill have a workforce of more than 15,000 that will begin efforts to restorepower as soon as it is safe to do so. The utility noted that it has investedmore than $2 billion in storm resiliency improvements since 2006. AfterSuperstorm Sandy in 2012, FPL has installed flood monitors at 223 substationsmost susceptible to storm surge that can help alert the utility to floodthreats and shut down the substation earlier, with the aim of mitigating damage.

Both reactors at FPL's 2,013-MWSt. Lucie nuclearplant were shut down, according to reporting by the Miami Herald, though one reactor was already offline for arefueling outage and with the storm's approach, the utility decided not torestart it. FPL plans to keep its 1,652-MW Turkey Point nuclear plant running, since it ismostly out of the hurricane's path.

The U.S. Nuclear RegulatoryCommission on Oct. 6 sent additional inspectors to the two FPL plants andDuke Energy Corp.'sBrunswick plantnear Southport, N.C., also near the Atlantic Coast.

The accompanying map shows allpower plants of 500 MW or larger in the four states most likely to be affectedby Matthew.

Duke said it had 2,150 linemen andvegetation personnel at its DukeEnergy Florida LLC subsidiary mobilized. It was predictingwidespread outages at its Florida subsidiary, which serves about 1.7 millioncustomers mainly in central and western Florida. Duke'stwo subsidiaries in North and South Carolina, Duke Energy Carolinas LLC and , serve acombined 4 million customers.

TECO Energy Inc. subsidiary , which serves about730,000 customers in central Florida, said it has more than 850 field personneland contractors in place to restore power after Hurricane Matthew passes.

Southern Co.'s GeorgiaPower Co., which counts 2.5 million customers, said on Twitter that outages are expectedto last several days, with winds possibly reaching 111 to 130 mph. Sisterutility Mississippi Power Co.said it is sending a crew of about 90 to assist with restoration efforts.

Across the country, 's saidit is sending 26 employees and 14 vehicles to Florida to help restore outages.So too are PPL Corp.subsidiariesLouisville Gas andElectric Co. and KentuckyUtilities Co., which are sending 140 line technicians, treetrimmers and other staff.