Power companies are bracing for widespread outages in Florida as Hurricane Matthew gathered strength and developed into a Category 4 storm.
The resurgent system raises questions about the region's ability to weather hurricane-force winds and storm surge. Utilities in the Southeastern United States have been preparing for years. Hurricane Matthew presents a serious test to their systems.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has warned that millions of Floridians could be left without power. The Florida Power & Light Company, which serves roughly half of the state's population, says that as many as 1.2 million customers may lose power, based on the storm's current path.
FPL has deployed more than 12,000 response workers, but still it warned that Floridians could experience multiple outages. The company noted it has spent more than $2 billion since 2006 to make its grid more resilient to storms and to shorten the time it takes to bring power back online.
Following the devastating storm seasons in 2004 and 2005, utilities have hardened their systems and improved coordination with each other and the communities they serve, according to Ted Kury, director of energy studies at the University of Florida's Warrington College of Business.