FPL, the biggest power company in Florida, said more than 3.2 million of its customers were without power by 10pm, mostly in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Hurricane Irma knocked out power to nearly four million homes and businesses in Florida on Sunday, threatening millions more as it crept up the state’s west coast, and full restoration of service could take weeks, local electric utilities said.
Irma hit Florida Sunday morning as a dangerous Category 4 storm, the second highest level on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, but by afternoon as it barreled up the west coast, it weakened to a Category 2 with maximum sustained winds of 110 miles per hour (177 kph).
So far, the brunt of the storm has affected Florida Power & Light’s customers in the states’ southern and eastern sections, and its own operations were not immune, either.
“We are not subject to any special treatment from Hurricane Irma. We just experienced a power outage at our command center. We do have backup generation,” FPL spokesman Rob Gould said on Sunday.
FPL, the biggest power company in Florida, said more than 3.2 million of its customers were without power by 10pm (0200 GMT Monday), mostly in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. More than 200,000 had electricity restored, mostly by automated devices.
The company’s system will need to be rebuilt, particularly in the western part of the state, Gould said. “That restoration process will be measured in weeks, not days.”
FPL is a unit of Florida energy company NextEra Energy Inc .
Large utilities that serve other parts of the state, including units of Duke Energy Corp, Southern Co and Emera Inc, were seeing their outage figures grow as the storm pushed north.
Emera’s Tampa Electric utility said the storm could affect up to 500,000 of the 730,000 homes and businesses it serves, and over 180,000 had already lost power.
The utilities had thousands of workers, some from as far away as California, ready to help restore power once Irma’s high winds pass their service areas.
About 17,000 were assisting FPL, nearly 8,000 at Duke and more than 1,300 at Emera.
Tampa Electric told customers on Sunday, however, that response crews were halting work because of the high winds.