Power on for 99% of Florida, but 135,000 customers still await reconnection after Hurricane Ian
Image via FPL.

FPL lineworker
Most of them are in hard-hit Lee County, though outages in Charlotte, Sarasota, Collier and DeSoto counties are still in the thousands.

By Friday morning, 98.8% of customers in the Sunshine State had their lights on thanks to the work of utility line workers toiling away across the state, according to the most recent outages report from the Public Service Commission.

That’s a more than 22-percentage-point improvement since the strike. In the nine days since Hurricane Ian made landfall near Fort Myers, Florida went from having more than 2.6 million without power to about 135,100.

More than two-thirds of those with continued outages receive power from electric cooperatives, private nonprofits that service customers in 58 of Florida’s 67 counties. The remainder source their electricity from Florida Power & Light (FPL), the state’s largest utility company.

Most of those awaiting service — 98,013 — are in Lee County, one of the counties worst hit when the near-Category 5 storm crashed into Southeast Florida on Oct. 28. Lee went from being 88% off the grid to roughly 21% powerless.

Of the accounts still offline Friday, 90,063 receive power through the Lee County Electric Cooperative (LCEC), a nonprofit that purchases all its power through FPL. The remaining 7,950 or so are hooked directly to FPL lines.

Charlotte County, which sits north of Lee along the Gulf Coast, still has 22,449 outages, representing 17.6% of the total utility accounts there. Of those, 97% are FPL customers, and the rest get electricity through LCEC.

North of Charlotte, 8,531 customers in Sarasota County need their power restored. FPL provides power to all but 40 of them. The rest receive service through the Peace River Electric Cooperative, which buys its power from nonprofit utility wholesaler Seminole Electric Cooperative.

There are also 4,583 customers in Collier County awaiting hookups (1.72% of all accounts), 1,235 customers in DeSoto County needing reconnection (6.6%), 101 customers in Manatee County pending service restoration (0.04%) and 60 or fewer customers without power in Hardee, Hendry, Glades, Broward and Hillsborough counties.

Hurricane Ian brought torrential rain, tornadoes and massive storm surges that flooded a large swath of the state along the Gulf Shore. The storm is among the deadliest and costliest to ever strike the state, with more than 100 confirmed dead and estimated damage of between $41 billion and $70 billion.

As more than 21,000 FPL line workers toil statewide to reconnect those still without power, the company’s Chair and CEO, Eric Silagy, said progress will be slow in the hardest hit areas.

“We are still racing to get customers back on but are now contending with significant damage to gain access to power lines and equipment that serve only a handful of customers,” he said in a statement Thursday. “At this point, we have thousands of individual jobs that, in many respects, require individual attention. Rest assured we will not stop until every customer has access to power.”

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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