Since Hurricanes Andrew and Wilma, Florida Power & Light has invested at least $1 billion to improve and build more power poles across South Florida. But will the poles withstand a hurricane?
Officials with FPL said they are better prepared now than they were before Hurricane Wilma hit in 2005, but acknowledge more work can be done. More than 3 million FPL customers were without power after Hurricane Wilma, some for more than a month.
FPL has been replacing substandard wooden and metal power poles with new, concrete-reinforced ones. So far, 800,000 replaced poles meet new standards.
"We have spent a billion dollars to make our infrastructure stronger and more storm resistant," said Marie Bertot, a FPL spokeswoman.
Crews are in the sixth year of a 10 year replacement program to replace the power poles. They inspect about 500 poles each business day.
The new 55-foot, 3-ton concrete poles were built to withstand 150 mph winds. They first were installed for customers critical to hurricane recovery, including police and fire stations, hospitals, gas stations, stores, and Port Everglades.
"No two storms are alike. No electrical infrastructure is storm proof," said Bertot. "We encourage our customers to prepare, and to prepare to be out of power, to prepare for outages, for an extended period of time if we have a severe storm.
Some wooden poles have been inspected and are up to par with the concrete ones.