Florida Power & Light (FPL) and Duke Energy Florida have reached an agreement that will allow the North Florida Resiliency Connection (NFRC) to remain on track to begin serving customers in time for the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season.
With this year’s hurricane season getting ready to start on June 1, FPL announced on Thursday that the agreement reached will allow the NFRC to remain on track to begin serving customers by the end of July. Spanning 176 miles from Columbia to Jackson counties, the NFRC will physically connect FPL’s energy grid to Northwest Florida when construction is complete.
In addition to improving FPL’s day-to-day reliability and storm response, the company noted that the transmission line unlocks approximately $1.5 billion in system benefits following the consolidated operations of FPL and the former Gulf Power. Once online, FPL says it will be able to use the storm-hardened transmission line to dispatch the company’s generation fleet across North Florida.
“We are pleased to have resolved all outstanding concerns between FPL and Duke Energy Florida pertaining to the North Florida Resiliency Connection transmission line,” said FPL Chairman and CEO Eric Silagy. “Forecasters are already predicting another active hurricane season and we know this new, state-of-the-art, storm-hardened transmission line will be an important tool in helping us restore power more quickly whenever severe weather hits.”
Today’s announcement comes after FPL, Duke Energy Florida and Tampa Electric Co. filed proposals on Monday at the state Public Service Commission to bolster underground power lines and “harden” other parts of electric systems to reduce outage threats from trees and other vegetation.
FPL is seeking approval to collect a projected $369.9 million for the projects, while Duke is proposing nearly $142.8 million and Tampa Electric is proposing $53.55 million, according to the filings. Almost all of the money would be for 2023 project costs, though relatively small amounts are related to 2022 costs.
Researchers predict that the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season — which runs from June 1 to November 30 — will be very active, with a recent forecast calling for nineteen named storms with nine of them reaching hurricane status. Of the nine, four are forecast to become a major hurricane.