Up to 9 Million Floridians Could Be Without Power After Irma

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Don't be alarmed if you get a call from Florida Power & Light before the storm - the utility is sending out automated calls with preparation information for Hurricane Irma. That could affect up to 9 million people.

That represents 4.1 million customer accounts, FPL president and CEO Eric Silagy said during a Friday press conference.

It threatens to knock out power to more than 4.1 million homes and businesses served by FPL, affecting around nine million people based on the current storm track, the utility's chief executive said.

Earlier, company officials said shutting down their nuclear plants will not impact their ability to provide electricity before Irma strikes. Underground substations and power lines - 40 percent of the system - may be a sanctuary from fierce wind but may be vulnerable to flooding. These shutdowns should make it easier to restore power after the storm passes, he said. Turkey Point Nuclear Reactor in Homestead, Florida.

"This storm has the potential to eclipse Hurricane Andrew", Gould said.

"We will shut those plants down 24 hours before the onset of winds reaching category 1 and only restart after the winds have passed and the storm has passed", said Silagy.

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The restoration "will start as soon as we can get out safely on the roads". The storm caused $90 million in damage to the plant, including a smokestack cracked in half by the hurricane's winds, the Miami Herald reported. We're going to keep operating that grid before the storm and during the storm. One, the St. Lucie Power Station, is on Hutchinson Island near Port St. Lucie. Both of the facilities are located along Florida's Atlantic Coast - each only around 20 feet (~6 meters) above sea level.

"FPL's nuclear plants are protected by thick concrete and reinforced steel and like many plants around the world were bolstered further after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, Gould said".

According to the FPL website, improvements included upgraded cooling equipment, diesel-fuel generators and pumps, and modernized communications (phone lines were lost at the plant during Hurricane Andrew). It is expected to make landfall in Florida on Sunday morning.

"We're not taking any chances".

FP&L said it invested about $3 billion to fortify its electrical grid in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana.

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