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Tampa Electric prepares year ‘round to handle hurricane season

New fold-out shelters can bring utility into heart of storm-damaged areas

TAMPA, May 31, 2017

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.

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.

This year, Tampa Electric has some new additions to our field fleet: seven Fold-Out Rigid Temporary Shelters (FORTS). They are portable command posts that provide temporary office space in the field, including internet access. In conjunction with our Mobile Command Center, the FORTS allow us to set up full incident bases in multiple locations – this helps get our storm leaders into the hardest-hit areas, which means a more efficient restoration effort.

Tampa Electric invests more than $55 million annually in a 10-point plan to harden the system against severe weather, which includes infrastructure replacement, tree trimming and pole inspections. In 2016, Tampa Electric:

  • Inspected nearly 64,000 wooden poles for strength and physical condition.
  • Hardened more than 1,000 structures, including 940 structure replacements and nearly 150 sets of insulators, during the company’s annual maintenance of the transmission system.
  • Upgraded nearly 6,000 distribution poles.
  • Trimmed tree limbs and branches from about one-fourth of the system – 1,300 miles – as part of our four-year vegetation management program.

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. Visit the Storm Safety page on tampaelectric.com for tips, restoration information and additional guidance.

Assistance is available to those with special needs during storm-related emergencies. Tampa Electric recommends that customers with special needs pre-register at floridadisaster.org/getaplan or with their local emergency management agency. These agencies provide aid to those 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) 298-7027 in Polk County, (727) 847-2411 in Pasco County and (727) 464-3800 in Pinellas County.

Reporting emergency and non-emergency power outages

Tampa Electric offers customers several ways to report power outages:

  • Power UpdatesSM is 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. Learn more at tampaelectric.com/powerupdates.
  • 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.
  • In addition to the automated outage reporting system, customers can report outages by texting OUT to 35069, at tampaelectric.com/outages or by logging into their account at tecoaccount.com.

Customers can monitor and track outages in their neighborhoods through the outage map at tampaelectric.com/outagemap. The map displays the cause, status and estimated restoration time. Tampa Electric also will use Facebook facebook.com/tampaelectric and Twitter @tampaelectric to keep customers informed about outage restoration.

For non-outage 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

To fully use the automated power outage phone system, Tampa Electric recommends that customers update the phone numbers by logging into their account at tecoaccount.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 No. 1 priority after 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.
  • 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. When leaving the home for an extended period, customers should switch off their power at the main breaker.

Tampa Electric, one of Florida’s largest investor-owned electric utilities, serves about 730,000 customers in West Central Florida. Tampa Electric is a subsidiary of Emera Inc., a geographically diverse energy and services company headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

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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