Over 1.6 million in Florida lose power from Irma, utility says

GettyImages-842753698

GettyImages-842753698

Power outages from Hurricane Irma in Florida and nearby states declined to about 6.9 million customers on Tuesday from a peak over 7.4 million late Monday as utilities organised one of the biggest restoration efforts in USA history.

"This is likely to be one of the largest and most complex power restoration efforts in US history", said Tom Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute, an industry trade group.

Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys early Sunday morning as a Category 4 storm.

FPL said it expects to restore essentially all of its customers in the eastern portion of Florida by the weekend and the harder-hit western portion of the state by September 22. FPL, a unit of NextEra Energy Inc and the state's largest power company, said its total outages dipped to about 2.5 million customers by Tuesday evening from a peak of over 3.6 million early on Monday.

In the Tampa Bay area, almost 550,000 Duke Energy customers and more than 280,000 TECO customers remain without power.

Some Florida utilities, including FPL, had warned customers it could take weeks to restore power in the hardest hit areas.

Census shows uninsured rate at record low
The U.S. uninsured rate fell 0.8 percentage points over the year, which was considered statistically significant. White Americans continued to have the lowest uninsured rates by race, at just 6.3 percent.

In Georgia, utilities reported over 1.1 million customers without power Tuesday, down from a peak of around 1.3 million on Monday night.

The state's gas supplies were severely disrupted before and during the storm as ports were closed, cutting Florida off from waterborne deliveries the state relies on.

The utilities had thousands of workers - some from as far away as California - ready to help restore power once Irma's high winds pass their service areas.

Tampa Bay residents without power dropped from about 1.15 million on Monday to a little over 920,000 as of Tuesday morning.

FPL said its two nuclear plants in Florida were safe.

FPL chose to shut only one of the two reactors at its Turkey Point nuclear plant on Saturday because the storm track shifted, and plans to leave both reactors at the St. Lucie plant in service because hurricane force winds are no longer expected to hit the sites.

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