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Sunday, September 01, 2019
Water-filled dam to protect FPL substation in St. Augustine from flooding. (SAR)
Excellent idea. Who knew that flooding at the Riberia Street substation caused power outages in prior hurricanes?
In California, buildings house electric utility substations, increasing reliability and hiding ugliness. Why not here?
Good story by Travis Gibson in the St. Augustine Record:
By Travis Gibson email@example.com
Aug 31, 2019 at 6:40 PM
As powerful and unpredictable Hurricane Dorian continues to head west toward Florida’s east coast, Florida Power & Light Company is using new technology to protect a St. Augustine substation from the potential flooding the storm may bring.
As of Friday night, the Riberia Street substation located near the San Sebastian River, which supplies more than 6,500 customers in St. Augustine with power, is being protected by AquaDam, a temporary water-filled barrier that surrounds critical infrastructure.
It’s the first time FPL has ever used the 10-foot high barrier to protect any of its substations.
FPL spokesman Bill Orlove said the substation was flooded during Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Irma in 2017, which delayed power restoration in the area.
"During both hurricanes, the substation was de-energized for about 25 hours due to more than 30 inches of water in the area," Orlove said.
Adding the barrier before the effects of Hurricane Dorian are felt in St. Johns County will hopefully prevent any long-term outages, he said.
“From every storm we learn and we are trying to be better,” Orlove said. “One of those lessons was the AquaDam.”
The dam is made of 640 feet of durable tubing that was filled with water from the San Sebastian River and the installation process took about 24 hours. Once filled, the dam uses the weight of the water to create a tight seal around the perimeter of the substation to prevent storm surge or flood waters from entering, according to FPL. When the dam is no longer needed, the water will be returned to the river.
“Substations step down high-voltage power and distribute it to customers,” Orlove said. “It’s critical to have these stations up and running after a storm.”
FPL has installed real-time flood monitors at 227 substations around the state, including St. Augustine, that are most prone to flooding. The company has also installed additional water-intrusion protection measures, including sump pumps, flood-resistant doors and sealed windows and other openings in substation vaults to protect critical equipment.
Forecasts currently predict that anywhere from 8 to 10 inches of rain could fall on St. Augustine when Hurricane Dorian hits.
FPL is also preparing for possible power outages by deploying a total work force of 18,000 from 34 states and Canada across Florida. On Saturday, FPL was setting up staging sites throughout the state so it can quickly move to affected areas, Orlove said.