An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

FPL investigation underway after failure of some LBK underground transformers

FPL assured Longboat Key commissioners that undergrounding is still the best option, despite some transformers failing due to Hurricane Idalia flooding.

The underground transformers installed on Longboat Key aren’t designed to be underwater.

When the combination of a king tide and Hurricane Idalia’s storm surge flooded low-lying areas of Longboat Key, 20 underground transformers failed.

This left around 400 Longboat Key Florida Power & Light customers without power, which the company restored within 15 hours, according to FPL representatives.

Public Works Director Isaac Brownman, along with a team of FPL representatives, discussed the issue with the Town Commission at the Sept. 26 regular workshop.

But first Brownman presented some good news. The project remains under budget by about $3.7 million, and 99% of easements have been completed.

Highway lights for Gulf of Mexico Drive have been delivered and installed, and the town is able to use remaining funds to purchase backlit street signs for the entirety of GMD.

But the challenges that remain are estimating a final timeline for completing the undergrounding project and investigating what went wrong during the flooding from Idalia.

According to FPL, the company has begun a thorough forensic investigation that will examine the failed transformers and try to identify what exactly went wrong.

But Robert Gaddis, director of FPL’s Storm Secure Underground Program, said the transformers were never meant to be fully submerged.