Irma Turns to Northern Florida, Western Georgia as Power Industry Struggles to Recover
Well over than 8 million Floridians are without power after Hurricane Irma tore through the state this weekend, hitting the west coast the hardest but leaving its mark everywhere. Utilities and power-generation companies in the area are facing a long, difficult response. Irma weakened to a tropical storm as it moved over northern Florida and western Georgia, where Industrial Info is tracking more than 1,300 industrial plants and more than $21.6 billion in active projects.
As much as half of Florida--roughly between 8.5 million and 9 million residents--was believed to be without power Monday morning, according to the chief executive of Florida Power & Light (FPL), a utility owned by NextEra Energy Incorporated (NYSE:NEE) (Juno Beach, Florida). The Florida Division of Emergency Management put its estimate at just less than 10 million accounts--or two-thirds of customers across the state, according to The Washington Post. That includes literally everyone in St. John's County, which includes St. Augustine; virtually everyone in Collier County, which includes Naples; and about 75% of customers in Miami-Dade County.
"We've never had that many outages. I don't think any utility in the country has," said FPL Chief Executive Officer Eric Silagy at a press conference. He later added: "People could be out of power for weeks. It absolutely could be weeks if we have to rebuild parts of the system."
FPL has closed both units at its Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant near Miami, and does not expect to return them to service until Thursday, September 14, at the earliest. For more information, see Industrial Info's plant profile for the Turkey Point facility.
In addition to the power problems, many ports that supply Florida with gasoline and diesel were closed, according to Bloomberg, and energy majors such as Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) (Irving, Texas) and Kinder Morgan Incorporated (NYSE:KMI) (Houston, Texas) closed fuel terminals and pipelines.
The massive blackout has residents of the Florida Panhandle and Georgia preparing for the worst. Northern Florida and western Georgia are home to more than $5.2 billion in active Power Industry projects, including several solar-power facilities under construction. Among them are two projects from NextEra in northern Florida: the $160 million Horizon Solar Energy Center in Melrose and the $160 million FPL Coral Farms Solar Energy Center in Florahome. Each facility is in its site preparation phase and is expected to generate 74.5 megawatts (MW) from photovoltaic (PV) panels.
Georgia Power Company, a subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE:SO) (Atlanta, Georgia), is nearing completion on its $140 million MCLB Solar Project in Albany, Georgia. The facility is expected to generate 31 MW from an estimated 150,000 fixed-tilt PV panels. For more information, see Industrial Info's reports on the Horizon, FPL Coral and MCLB projects.
Meanwhile, refineries and chemical-processing plants in Texas continue to return online two weeks after Hurricane Harvey. CITGO Petroleum Corporation (Houston, Texas) brought the 30,000-barrel-per-day (BBL/d) West side at its 195,000-BBL/d refining complex in Corpus Christi back to normal this past weekend. The 165,000-BBL/d East side had been restarted last week. Personnel continue to work on a leak in the East side SRU Complex and a Cooling Tower on the West side; both units remain online. For more information, see Industrial Info's plant profile.
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