Hurricane Irma Cuts Power to Millions of Customers

Credit: UWM/SSEC/CIMSS, William Straka III

Hurricane Irma battered Florida over the weekend with heavy rain, storm surges, extreme wind, and possibly even tornadoes. As of 7 pm Eastern Time on Sunday, more than 3.2 million customers in the state were without power, Edison Electric Institute president Tom Kuhn said in a storm update. This morning, outages were also hitting parts of Georgia.

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 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 U.S. history.”

A veritable army of utility crews is assembling 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.

Just a few weeks ago, the association representing all US investor-owned utilities was issuing updates about sweeping power outages caused by Hurricane Harvey.

In addition to downed power lines and flying debris from Hurricane Irma, EEI warned that criminals have been impersonating electric company employees in some parts of the state. “Customers should always ask for photo IDs — all electric company and contractor personnel carry photo IDs and their vehicles are clearly marked,” the institute cautioned.

Full restoration of power could take weeks in many areas affected by Hurricane Irma because of expected damage to FPL’s system, Business Insider reported today.

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