Power outages are beginning in some communities in southwest Florida overnight Saturday, and officials with Florida Power and Light say "millions" could lose power before Hurricane Irma is over.
"To be clear, FPL has no plans to shut down power to its customers".
So far, the brunt of the storm has affected Florida Power & Light's (FPL) customers in the southern and eastern sections of the state.
The same applied to the utility's nuclear plant in Jensen Beach.
The utility covers much of the state, including most cities on the Atlantic coast and the Gulf coast south of Tampa. It could become a Category 5 at any time.
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FPL has spent $3 billion since its system was slammed by seven hurricanes in 2004 and 2005. That's more than half of homes and businesses in the county, a total that has surged more than 600 percent in the last 12 hours.
"FPL has built the most sophisticated and strongest power grid in the nation". If the hurricane continues on its present track and strength, Florida's west coast could be more of a "rebuild" to restore power, he said.
Depending on the outcome of the storm, damage to FPL's infrastruction could be extensive and require days or weeks of restoration, the release said.
All the utility companies were mustering thousands of employees-including workers from utilities from more than two dozen states-to be ready to fix outages in Irma's wake.
He said 17,000 restoration workers from as far away as California and MA are already stationed around the state, but it will take time to rebuild the system.