The Florida Public Service Commission on Tuesday invited customers to submit comments regarding how long they had to wait before their power was restored and how well their utility kept them informed throughout Hurricane Irma.
The PSC recently created a generic docket to collect and analyze forensic data on utilities’ transmission and distribution facilities to discern the type and cause of damage. The PSC said when it completes its analysis and data collection, it will consider options for immediate action.
At a Florida Senate committee hearing on Tuesday, a PSC official said restoration times appear to have improved, but the utilities have those stats now, Florida Politics reports.
Hurricane Irma left nearly two-thirds of Floridians without electric power. The relief and repair efforts in the wake of the storm were massive. At one point, Florida Power & Light had 28,000 linemen at work. Those efforts resulted in a relatively rapid recovery. Five days after Irma made landfall, the percentage of customers without electricity fell from 64% to 18%, according to the Energy Information Administration.
Florida’s PSC is now working on assessing utility responses. The agency is reviewing utilities’ hurricane preparedness and restoration actions in an effort to explore the potential to further minimize infrastructure damage from outages.
The PSC sees the collection of customer’s comments on outage times and on how well utilities kept customers informed as part of that process. “Your comments will be extremely valuable as part of the Commission’s review of utility hurricane preparedness and restoration actions,” PSC Chairman Julie Brown said in a statement.
But the PSC won't have any conclusions about utility performance before January, it emerged during a hearing Tuesday in the Florida Senate's Committee on Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities.
“How did we do? Cut to the chase. Did it turn out? Did we get our money’s worth?” Committee Chairman Aaron Bean asked Cayce Hinton, the PSC’s director for industry development and market analysis during a discussion of the PSC’s 10-year infrastructure hardening efforts, Florida Politics reports.
“We don’t know yet,” Hinton told the committee, mentioning the docket the PSC has opened to explore Bean’s question. Restoration times appear to have improved, but utilities have the stats now, Hinton said, according to Florida Politics.
This is the first year that recent infrastructure improvements have really been tested, Hinton noted.
Representatives from Duke Energy Florida, Florida Power & Light and Tampa Electric Co. also testified, with each calling their company’s response vigorous, given the amount of damage.