Utility taking precautions to manage storm restoration during pandemic
TAMPA, May 29, 2020
Hurricane season starts June 1, and Tampa Electric is preparing for whatever Mother Nature has in store. The company’s year-round preparations enable Tampa Electric to handle the potential impacts of hurricanes and widespread power outages.
And this year, the coronavirus pandemic will make hurricane season look different.
“Hurricane preparations are even more important this year amid the pandemic,” said Nancy Tower, president and chief executive officer of Tampa Electric. “As we work to protect the public and our employees, our approach toward storm restoration will involve new and necessary health-first measures. We are doing everything we can to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, and, as always, we will keep our customers well-informed.”
Customers are urged to follow the hurricane season guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The tips include allowing additional time to assemble storm kits as well as additional items, and paying extra attention to evacuation orders and shelters, which may be affected by social distancing guidelines.
Hurricane season runs through Nov. 30.
During the pandemic, Tampa Electric is taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of customers, employees and out-of-state crews who may help support power restoration after severe weather. The mutual assistance partners in the Southeast have assured Tampa Electric they can provide help if needed. Plans are in place to protect crews and customers while they work here.
Tampa Electric invests more than $40 million a year in a 10-point plan to harden the system against severe weather, which includes infrastructure replacement, tree trimming and pole inspections. In 2019, Tampa Electric:• Hardened or replaced 3,400 distribution power poles.• Hardened 149 transmission structures, including 144 pole replacements, during the company’s annual maintenance of the transmission system. • Inspected nearly 40,000 wooden power poles.• Trimmed tree limbs and branches from nearly 1,600 miles – or one-fourth of our system – as part of our four-year vegetation management program.
Tampa Electric wants customers to be preparedTampa 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. Pay special attention to any additional supplies needed for the pandemic.
The company also recommends that customers ensure their phone number and email address are updated at tecoaccount.com.
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) 847-8137 in Pasco County and (727) 464-3800 in Pinellas County.
Reporting emergency and non-emergency power outagesTampa Electric offers customers several ways to report power outages or other electric emergencies and encourages customers to create a contact in their mobile devices to store this important information along with their account numbers:• Call 1-877-588-1010, Tampa Electric’s dedicated toll-free automated power outage phone system.• Text OUT and their account number, meter number or phone number to 35069.• Log into their online account at tecoaccount.com to report the outage with one click.
Monitoring outages and getting updatesCustomers can monitor and track outages in their neighborhoods through the outage map at tampaelectric.com/outagemap. The recently updated map offers an address-search feature and displays the cause, status and estimated restoration time.
Power UpdatesSM is Tampa Electric’s free service to keep customers informed about their electric service. Customers can sign up to receive updates via text, email and phone. Learn more at tampaelectric.com/powerupdates.
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 informationTo 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 guidelinesAs 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. o 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 780,000 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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