How Businesses Have Suffered in the Wake of Irma

Hurricane Irma left an electricity void across much of Florida — and the effects have been horrific for many.

Florida Power & Light (FPL), the state’s largest utility, said it hopes to have power restored to all customers by Sept. 22, though that date could change. Power did not come fast enough to some nursing homes, however. A nursing home in Hollywood, Florida, saw five patients die in the days after electricity was lost.

As Reuters reported yesterday, about 150 of Florida’s nearly 700 nursing facilities do not have power restored, according to the Florida Health Care Association, an advocacy group representing facilities statewide. Locations without power have been flagged to the state to help utilities prioritize their work, the group said in a statement.

Some of the outages from the hurricane could end up lasting for a long time, especially if the energy infrastructure needs to be rebuilt in order for power to get restored, according to the Edison Electric Institute. The electric power industry is mounting a nationwide response to Hurricane Irma, which EEI described as “likely to be one of the largest industry restoration efforts in US history.”

A veritable army of utility crews assembled in response to the hurricane. “Tens of thousands of workers from across the United States and Canada are mobilized to assist in the Irma response,” EEI says. PG&E, FirstEnergy, PPL Electric, and Duke Energy crews are among those racing to help. This morning, Florida Power & Light tweeted that they are mobilizing the largest restoration workforce ever assembled in the company’s history.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have, some say, made a business case for renewable energy. The scale of natural disasters is getting worse, but, as Jonathan Watts, the Guardian’s global environmental editor, says, the price of a solution is getting cheaper.

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