Power out? Rest assured, Tampa Bay. The countywide and citywide curfews do not apply to Duke Energy and TECO technicians.
Tampa Electric is reporting nearly 15,000 people in Hillsborough County are without power as of early Sunday evening. TECO technicians have halted work around Tampa Bay because of high winds, a 5 p.m. advisory says.
"Once the storm has passed and it is safe, a full assessment of the damage will begin and restoration will resume," the advisory read.
Duke Energy reported 17,000 Pinellas customers were without power Sunday night. The number of people without power could reach 1 million, with outages lasting one week or longer after Hurricane Irma makes landfall and passes through Tampa Bay, Duke Energy said.
Pinellas County issued a 5 p.m. curfew for Sunday due to approaching hurricane-force winds and storm conditions. Hillsborough County issued a 6 p.m. curfew. But those limitations don't apply to power technicians, who are already out in full force in Tampa Bay, according to company officials.
"We're very much like first responders. As long as it's safe we will be out. There are limits of course with flooding and high winds, but our limitations are conditional only on weather," said Ana Gibbs, spokeswoman for Duke Energy. She noted that the electric company has 8,000 technicians ready and already working across the state. Duke Energy has 1.8 million customers in Florida.
"We are ready to mobilize a small army of line workers, tree professionals, damage assessors and support personnel who will begin work as soon as we safely can," said Luis Ordaz, Duke Energy Florida storm director, in a statement. "We expect significant power outages and restoration in some areas could take a week or longer. We will not rest until we get the lights back on for everyone."
Contact Justine Griffin at [email protected] Follow @SunBizGriffin.