Gulf Power Company

Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services

Agriculture Sec. Nikki Fried visited the western Panhandle on Thursday, to get first-hand information on the wildfires that have destroyed property and forced evacuations. Fried met with local officials and the media.

“Thank you to the brave men and women who have been here since Monday that have been working around-the-clock to save lives, to save homes,” said Agriculture Sec. Nikki Fried, who met with local officials Thursday about the 2,000-acre Five Mile Swamp blaze near Milton.

NOAA

If it’s mid- to late August, then we’re heading into the busiest time of the hurricane season. Coastal residents are urged to stay alert from now until at least the end of the season on Nov. 30.

“There had been some notable adjustments that have been made by some of the lead forecasters in our circles,” says Meteorologist Jeff Huffman at the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network – FPREN. That includes NOAA – the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

NextEra Energy

There’s a new era dawning for Gulf Power Company, which begins 2019 with a new owner.

NextEra Energy – based in Juno Beach – announced Tuesday it had completed the deal with Atlanta-based Southern Company for Gulf Power -- the final piece of the $6.5 billion puzzle.

This week’s cold snap could be considered a taste of the winter chill expected to hit the Florida Panhandle. And the chill, in turn, means higher utility bills for most.

Gulf Power spokeswoman Kimberly Blair says their 460,000 customers need to begin preparing for the winter months if they haven’t done so already.

"Stay warm, but also keep your energy bills as low as possible; there’s [sic] things that customers can do that are free, or very low cost,” Blair says. "We know that everyone’s on a budget.”

National Hurricane Center

Hurricane Michael is approaching the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend as a Category-3 monster, with landfall expected (Wednesday). WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody reports last-minute preparations were being made Tuesday, including mandatory evacuations as far west as Pensacola.

The Escambia County Emergency Operations Center spent Tuesday at Level-2 – or partial activation – tracking Michael’s trek through the Gulf of Mexico.

NextEra Energy

Florida Power and Light’s footprint across Florida could be getting bigger, through a proposed deal in which its parent firm would buy Pensacola-based Gulf Power Company as part of a $6.5 billion package.

Jim Robo, Chairman and CEO of NextEra Energy, spoke with shareholders on Monday.

“NextEra has agreed to acquire Gulf Power; Florida City Gas, and ownerships stakes in the Oleander and Stanton natural as power plants,” Robo said in a conference call.

NextEra will acquire 100 percent of the Oleander plant near Cocoa, and 65 percent of Stanton near Orlando.

In a major move in the state’s utility industry, the parent company of Florida Power and Light is acquiring Gulf Power Company as part of a $6.5 billion dollar deal.

NextEra Energy plans to buy Gulf Power, along with ownership interests in two Southern Company power plants – Oleander near Cocoa, and Stanton Energy Center near Orlando. NextEra wants to buy a 100 percent interest in Plant Oleander, and 65 percent of Stanton.

Florida City Gas rounds out the package. It serves about 110 thousand natural-gas customers in Miami-Dade, Brevard, St. Lucie and Indian River counties.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

It began as the annual hurricane drill by Gulf Power Company Wednesday morning. But participants were thrown a curveball that a major league pitcher would have been proud of.

The original scenario: Hurricane Irma-2, a Category-3 storm, is bearing down on the Gulf Coast.

“When we got into the briefing room, we found out that the hurricane had made a [sic] easterly turn and was going out into the Atlantic,” said Gulf Power spokesman Jeff Rogers. “However, at four a.m. this morning, as part of the drill, we had a cyberattack. And so everyone had to shift gears.”

Beginning in April, Gulf Power Company’s 460,000 customers will get a break in their electric bills.

Approved this week by the Florida Public Service Commission, the $103 million reduction comes after Congress and the Trump administration passed a tax cut package in December, which includes reducing the federal corporate income-tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent.

Gulf Power Company

Gulf Power Company will spend $83 million over five years, to upgrade its electricity grid in downtown Pensacola.

The project is part of an overall, $225 million makeover across the utility’s 460,000 customer service area. According to spokesman Jeff Rogers, the current system is well beyond retirement age.

“While there’s a very sophisticated underground network in downtown Pensacola, parts of it are 70 years gold,” said Rogers. “They’ve been well maintained and updated, but it is time for a complete overhaul.”

  Round two of frigid weather in the Florida Panhandle closely resembles that from a couple of weeks ago. But there is some light, and warmth, at the end of the tunnel.

Precipitation from the southernmost reaches of Winter Storm Inga led to a number of closings in northwest Florida the past couple of days: schools, roads, bridges and overpasses. Meteorologist Jeff Huffman at the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network says the silver lining is that the rest of the winter mix is tracking to the north and east.

Gulf Power Company

Some Gulf Power Company customers may have had their personal data exposed through a possible glitch at a third-party vendor.

Jeff Rogers at the utility says the data breach – detected by the firm TIO Networks -- may have affected customers who paid their bills by check at a local kiosk.

TIO was acquired by PayPal earlier this year.

Gulf Power Company

As the remnants of Irma dissipate from Tennessee to the Carolinas, work is underway to restore power to 15 million people in parts of south Florida hit by the former Category-5 Hurricane. That includes help from the Panhandle.

More than 150 Gulf Power storm crew left Pensacola and Panama City early Tuesday morning for heavily damaged areas, after power was restored to 13,000 customers in Bay County that was knocked out by Tropical Storm Irma’s high winds.

noaa.gov

Scattered power outages, along with downed tree branches and other debris, were left behind when a storm front moved through northwest Florida late Sunday night and early Monday morning.

A cold front came through from the west on Sunday, bringing showers and thunderstorms;  some packing heavy rain and vivid lightning. Wind gusts of 40 miles per hour were reported at Pensacola International Airport.

Gulf Power Company

After rescinding its original $107 million rate hike request, Gulf Power Company’s compromise plan has received unanimous approval from the Public Service Commission. 

The settlement, crafted by Gulf Power, the Office of Public Counsel and other interested parties, goes into effect on July 1. Jeffery Stone is Gulf Power’s General Counsel, and had praise for the PSC staff.

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