Power goes out for millions in Florida

  • World
  • Wednesday, 27 Feb 2008

MYT 4:31:57 AM

MIAMI (Reuters) - A massive power outage struck parts of Florida on Tuesday, knocking out electricity to millions, snarling traffic and trapping people in elevators.

A spokeswoman for FPL Group Inc, the main energy provider in south Florida, said the company's Turkey Point nuclear reactor in Florida shut down due to the loss of off-site power but would not elaborate on the cause of the outage. Other power companies were also affected.

Mike Stone, a spokesman for the Florida Division of Emergency Management, said the blackout affected two to three million people in south Florida and as far north in the state as the Tampa area.

Local media said the number of those affected was higher. In many areas power was restored quite quickly.

Florida Power and Light, a subsidiary of FPL Group Inc, said it expected to restore power to most Florida customers that lost power in about two hours.

"I don't know the cause of the outage," Stone told Reuters, saying authorities were awaiting an update from FPL. "There was a failure within the FPL system," he said.

Officials in Washington said there were no signs of a link to terrorism.

"There is no indication of a nexus to terrorism at this time ... we will continue to monitor," U.S. Homeland Security Department spokeswoman Laura Keehner said.

CNN reported that eight power plants were shut down and Fox News said that substation equipment failure caused a domino effect of power plant failures.

It was not just the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Palm Beach area, the most populous part of the state, that was affected.

A spokesman for Progress Energy's Florida utility said power outages spread from south Florida to its territory in the middle of the state.

The outages were caused by the loss of generation outside its area, said Progress spokesman Drew Elliott. He could not say how many customers lost power.

"We expect to have power back on by this afternoon," he said.

Local newspapers said power was out in Volusia county, around Daytona Beach, site of the famous racetrack, and in Brevard county, where NASA launches space shuttles from its Kennedy Space Center.

On Aug. 14, 2003, New York City and much of the Northeast and parts of the Midwest United States suffered a blackout that affected 50 million people. It was widely seen as the worst blackout in North American history.

That outage stranded hundreds of thousands of commuters and trapped subway riders underground in New York City, where thousands of people spent a hot night sleeping on sidewalks or walking miles in the darkness to reach their homes.

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