Gulf Power crews responded quickly to the power outages caused by Tropical Storm Alberto as its wide bands slowly rolled across Northwest Florida and as its disorganized eye made landfall at Laguna Beach, just west of Panama City, late Monday afternoon.
Crews restored power within 12 hours to 11,719 of Gulf Power’s 460,000 customers who lost power during Alberto, with the majority of outages in Bay, Walton and Okaloosa counties. At the peak of the storm at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, 6,711 customers were without power.
“We were closely monitoring every movement of the storm, and as soon as we knew it was likely to make landfall near Panama City, Gulf Power crews and equipment were positioned in advance to respond quickly to the hardest-hit areas,” said Kimberly Blair, Gulf Power spokesperson. “We also had crews at the ready all across the service area. This quick restoration is a testament to the investments we’ve made to the grid and storm preparation throughout the year.”
For more than 10 years, Gulf Power crews have worked throughout Northwest Florida to harden the grid and improve the way energy is delivered, an initiative aimed at reducing the impact of future storms and insuring the long-term reliability of Northwest Florida’s energy infrastructure.
Even though Northwest Florida hasn’t experienced a hurricane in more than 10 years, Gulf Power’s crews have had plenty of storm restoration practice — they’ve traveled more than 36 times to 14 different states since 2008 assisting in power restoration efforts after storms such as Hurricane Maria that wiped out Puerto Rico’s electric grid and Hurricane Irma that damaged the grid all across Florida in 2017, along with Superstorm Sandy that hit the Northeast Atlantic coast in 2012.
Another vital program that helps improve reliability is Gulf Power’s vegetation management program. The annual program involves trimming trees near power lines, which helps keep branches from causing power outages. This is considered a critically important program heading into tropical storm season.
“The investments of vegetation management, storm hardening the grid and having storm-seasoned crews have paid huge dividends and the primary reason customers’ power has been restored quickly following this tropical storm,” Blair said. “Making sure our customers can count on us for reliable energy is very important, and the investments we continue to make in our system are paying off.”
With the official storm season beginning June 1, Gulf Power urges customers to go to the MyGulfPower.com storm ready page for tips to prepare for the storm season. And customers should plan for longer outages if a major hurricane with widespread damage hits the region.