Company Header Graphic
News Release

Tampa Electric has storm plan and is ready for 2013 hurricane season

Year-round preparations ensure crews are ready to handle Mother Nature

TAMPA, May 31, 2013

Hurricane season starts June 1, and Tampa Electric is ready for whatever Mother Nature has in store. The company’s year-round preparations enable crews to handle the potential impacts of hurricanes and widespread power outages.

Tampa Electric’s comprehensive storm plan is in place and crews are ready to help restore power as safely and quickly as possible in the event of severe weather. The company also recommends that customers have a storm plan in place for their homes or businesses.

New this year is Power Updates, Tampa Electric’s free service to keep customers informed about their electric service. Customers can report outages online or by text and receive updates via text, email and phone. Customers also are encouraged to visit Tampa Electric’s outage map at tampaelectric.com/outages to monitor and track outages. New in 2013, the outage map displays the outage cause and restoration status in addition to the number of customers affected and estimated restoration time.

Hurricane season, which runs through Nov. 30, is a particularly vulnerable time for the system of wires and equipment generating 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.

Tampa Electric invests more than $40 million annually in a 10-point plan to harden the system against severe weather, which includes infrastructure replacement, tree trimming and pole inspections. In 2012, these efforts included:

  • Inspecting more than 50,000 wooden poles for strength and physical condition.
  • Hardening more than 800 wood transmission structures, including replacing more than 630 with concrete or steel structures, during the company’s annual maintenance of the transmission system.
  • Trimming tree limbs and branches from approximately 1,900 miles of power lines.

Tampa Electric’s crews are available to repair damage affecting Tampa Electric’s lines and equipment – but only when they can do so safely.

When a major storm’s arrival is imminent, Tampa Electric coordinates with utilities and contractors across the nation to mobilize crews towards Florida. With the Mutual Assistance Routing System, customer service representatives from other utilities can securely handle customer calls in the event the company’s call center must evacuate.

Tampa Electric wants customers to be prepared

Tampa Electric encourages all of its customers to have a personal storm plan in place for their home or business. Download a handy storm season preparedness brochure on the Storms Safety page at tampaelectric.com .

Tampa Electric recommends that customers with special needs call their county’s special needs registry office to pre-register with a local response team. The response teams provide aid to persons who require special assistance during evacuations and sheltering because of physical, mental or sensory disabilities. Those offices can be reached at the following numbers: (813) 307-8063 in Hillsborough County, (863) 534-5600 in Polk County, (727) 847-8137 in Pasco County and (727) 464-3800 in Pinellas County.

Tampa Electric’s restoration priorities

Tampa Electric strives to restore service in priority order. We focus on restoring facilities identified by governmental agencies as critical to public health and safety, such as hospitals, disaster centers and main police and fire stations. Tampa Electric then focuses on repairs that will restore power to the largest number of customers in the shortest possible time.

Underground electric systems do not guarantee protection from damage by hurricanes and other storms. Uprooted trees, flooding and tidal surges can cause severe damage to the underground system. In flooded areas, storm damage restoration efforts must be delayed until the water has receded, and restoration typically takes longer on underground systems.

Reporting emergency and non-emergency power outages

Residential and commercial customers are encouraged to call Tampa Electric’s dedicated toll-free automated power outage phone system at 1-877-588-1010 to report a power outage or electric emergency.

Our automated phone system works in conjunction with our computer-based Outage Management System to quickly and efficiently identify the problem areas on our system. 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

In addition to the automated outage reporting system, customers can report outages online at tampaelectric.com/outages or by texting OUT to 35069. Our new, free Power Updates service keeps customers informed about their electric service. Customers sign up at tampaelectric.com/powerupdates and set their contact preferences to let us know if they would like to receive phone calls, texts and/or emails about their service and other important information.

Tampa Electric also will use Facebook facebook.com/tampaelectric and Twitter twitter.com/tampaelectric to keep customers informed about outage restoration.

Updating customer contact information

To fully use the automated power outage phone system, Tampa Electric recommends that customers update their landline and mobile phone numbers at tampaelectric.com . The system can recognize customers’ phone numbers or Tampa Electric account numbers and match them to the address when you call, helping the company locate outages quickly.

Electrical safety guidelines

As with all its activities, safety is always Tampa Electric’s number one priority following a storm.

Following a storm, Tampa Electric teams patrol the electric system to locate problems. Customers can enhance their safety and Tampa Electric’s restoration efforts by observing the following guidelines:

  • Stay away from any downed power lines. Downed lines do not have to pop and snap to be energized. Assume any downed power line is energized. Everyone should avoid contact with a 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.
  • Use portable generators safely. Do not connect a portable generator directly to a home circuit. Plug appliances directly to the generator. Connecting a generator to home circuits may cause power to flow to outside lines, called backfeed, which can pose life-threatening danger to restoration crews.
    • Also, portable generators must be properly ventilated. Do not use a generator inside a residence or any enclosed space, such as a garage, where deadly carbon monoxide gasses could build up.
  • 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.

Tampa Electric Company is the principal subsidiary of TECO Energy Inc. (NYSE: TE), an energy-related holding company with regulated utility operations in Florida, including both Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas System . Tampa Electric serves more than 687,000 customers in West Central Florida. TECO Energy’s other major subsidiary, TECO Coal, owns and operates coal-production facilities in Kentucky and Virginia.

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