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News Release

Tampa Electric prepares year-round for hurricane season

TAMPA, June 1, 2006

Hurricane season starts June 1, but Tampa Electric prepares year-round to deal with the potential impacts of hurricanes and widespread power outages.  Tampa Electric's comprehensive storm plan is in place and ready to help restore power as safely and quickly as possible in the event of a storm.

Hurricane season, which runs through Nov. 30, is a particularly vulnerable time for the system of wires and equipment producing and delivering electricity to homes and businesses.  Severe storms can damage Tampa Electric's energy production and delivery systems, and power outages are not uncommon during storm conditions.

As with all its activities, safety is Tampa Electric’s number one priority following a storm.  Tampa Electric’s second objective in the event of widespread outages is to restore power to the largest number of customers in the shortest possible time.  Team members work to restore power to the entire service area as safely and quickly as possible.

Tampa Electric’s restoration priorities

Electric service is restored in a pre-determined order of priority. Facilities identified as “critical” to public health and safety by governmental agencies, such as hospitals, disaster centers and main police and fire stations, come first.  This way, these critical agencies can assist with other storm-related problems or injuries.

For the protection of public health, primary water and sewer installations are next, followed by all others, including communication service providers, schools, nursing homes, supermarkets, home improvement/building supply centers, insurance facilities, etc.

Due to the configuration of the power system, part of a residential subdivision could have its power restored while another is still without power.  All residential areas are considered equally important, and Tampa Electric works safely and quickly to restore service to all.

When a major storm's arrival is imminent, Tampa Electric coordinates with utilities and contractors across the nation to mobilize crews towards Florida.  Tampa Electric's crews are placed on call so that they are available to repair any damage affecting Tampa Electric's lines and equipment, but only when they can do so safely.

Reporting emergency and non-emergency power outages

This year, the company is implementing a new, dedicated toll-free power outage phone number. Starting in June, residential and commercial customers will be able to call (877) 588-1010 to report an electric emergency or power outage.

Tampa Electric has also invested in a new “outage and restoration” initiative, which will give the company’s call center the ability to handle up to 30,000 calls at once, through its automated phone system.  This additional capacity is expected to minimize busy signals, even during post-storm call volumes.

For all other inquiries, customers should use the following numbers:
(813) 223-0800 inside Hillsborough County
(863) 299-0800 in Polk County
(888) 223-0800 (toll-free) outside Hillsborough County or out of state

Updating customer contact information

When a customer calls to report an outage, Tampa Electric's automated phone system uses his or her telephone number at the location where service is delivered to identify the trouble spot. Tampa Electric account numbers can also serve as identifiers.

It is important that Tampa Electric has updated telephone numbers.  This helps ensure that Tampa Electric's outage management system is updated and ready to automatically generate a work order for repair crews if an outage occurs at that home or place of business.

The system groups outage calls by location, checks them against a detailed circuit model database and predicts where the problem is.  Updated mobile computers in service trucks allow crews to access the expanded information and quickly respond to the outage.  This is the fastest, most efficient way Tampa Electric can restore power.

To help prepare for restoration, Tampa Electric is asking customers who may have changed their home or business telephone numbers (the phone number where electric service is delivered) to inform the company of the change.

The quickest, easiest way to update a phone number is to go online, and follow these instructions:
Go to www.tampaelectric.com
Click on “Residential or Business”
Click on “Customer Service”
Click on “Your Account”
Click on “Update Your Telephone Number”
Provide your name, address, account number, the last four digits of your Social Security number and your e-mail address.

Customers’ role in restoring service

Following a storm, Tampa Electric's plan relies on teams of personnel patrolling the electric system to identify or pinpoint problems.  Customers can enhance their safety and Tampa Electric’s restoration efforts by observing the following guidelines:

Stay away from any downed power lines.  These lines may still be energized.  If so, they are dangerous.  Downed lines do not have to pop and snap to be energized.  All persons should avoid any contact with any downed line or any object, such as a tree branch, fence, vehicle or even water that has come in contact with a downed power line.  It is safest to assume any downed power line is energized.

Use portable generators safely.  DO NOT connect a portable generator to home circuits.  Plug appliances directly to the generator.  Connecting a generator to home circuits may cause power to flow to outside lines, posing life-threatening danger to restoration crews.  Also, portable generators must NOT be taken into a residence or any enclosed space where deadly carbon monoxide gasses could build up.  There are also other devices, such as invertors, that can provide some emergency backup power for small appliances through an automobile engine. (Note: this should not be done in a closed garage.)

Obtain a telephone that plugs directly into the wall jack.  Portable household telephones won’t work without electricity and area cell phone systems could be disrupted.

In the event of an outage, prepare the home for power restoration.  Customers should make sure their homes are ready to safely receive electricity once power has been restored.  Make sure there are no flammable items on the stove, no irons left on or other potentially dangerous situations. Turn off as many appliances as possible that require electricity and turn them on one by one after power is restored.  This causes less stress to the power system and ensures that all customers get restored without unnecessary delays.  Customers may want to leave their front porch light on so they will know when power is restored.  When leaving the home for an extended period, customers should switch off their power at the main breaker.

Visit online for more information

For additional media materials, information about Tampa Electric's storm plans, or to obtain one of Tampa Electric's hurricane season brochures, visit www.tampaelectric.com.

New this year, www.tampaelectric.com now offers a "Weather Watch" section, including current weather information, an emergency checklist, a downloadable storm brochure, storm preparedness tips, useful weather links and more.  From the homepage, simply click the Weather Watch button.

Also available online is information on the Zap Cap System® for Home or for Business, Tampa Electric's complete year-round surge suppressor system for homes and businesses, to help protect sensitive electronics and appliances from damaging, high-voltage surges.

Tampa Electric Company is the principal subsidiary of TECO Energy, Inc. (NYSE: TE), an integrated energy-related holding company with five core businesses. Tampa Electric Company is a regulated utility with both electric and gas divisions (Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas System). Other subsidiaries are engaged in waterborne transportation, coal and synthetic fuel production and independent power.

Media Contact
For journalist inquiries only:


CHERIE JACOBS
TECO Energy, Tampa Electric, Peoples Gas
TECO Energy, Inc.
702 N. Franklin Street
Tampa, Florida 33602
E-mail: cljacobs@tecoenergy.com Email Icon