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South Florida’s power utility already uses drones, robots and solar power. That’s a Florida Power & Light update by external affairs and economic development vice president Pamela Rauch at Boca Chamber’s monthly meeting.

“The pandemic dominated 2020 and we’ve had a very active storm season. This is only the second time the hurricane center had to go to the Greek alphabet and Eta grazed us this weekend,” she said. “Be aware we are not done with storm season this November. Please be prepared for further storms, but we think the worst is over.”

Here’s highlights of the FPL presentation the Chamber will post with other updates https://www.youtube.com/c/BocaChamber/videos

  • FPL built the first three solar plants in 2015 and intends to build 30 by 2030. Existing 14 projects account for 2% of power, average 3 to 5 acres and serve 15,000 homes. “If you go up the turnpike, you’ll see more in the middle of the state where land is more available.
  • Batteries projects are paired with solar to store solar power. The largest is in the Manatee Solar Energy Center.
  • Hardening the grid includes converting poles to concrete: hardening main power lines along highways; not always popular aggressive tree trimming on power lines. A pilot program will underground power lines in neighborhoods.
  • Technology includes 160,000 devices on the grid to evaluate, and restore outages.
  • Drones are used to assess outages and damages quickly after a storm, replacing trucks. “FPL started using drones large scale in Irma with 12 teams. Drones were able to fly over and can provide real-time data. They’re also used every day and the company is still exploring all opportunities for drones.”
  • “Robots monitor substations and can keep employees out of danger and we’re getting better data.”
  • Every customer has a smart device meter to predict outages.
  • On power outages from Eta: “This was a messy, lower-wind storm and teams were out there working 24/7 to get the lights on. There was significant flooding…in Miami Dade and Broward.”
  • On lack of wind power in Florida. “There’s no wind power generated in Florida. Land is too expensive. Solar will continue to become a bigger mix.”

By Marci Shatzman

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