On Tuesday, Tampa Electric Co. was considering cutting off electricity in parts of downtown Tampa and beyond — a proactive move intended to help avoid storm damage to their equipment and to restore power faster once Hurricane Ian moved on.
But by late afternoon, a company spokesperson said, based on the latest forecast, the threat of storm surge downtown had diminished and they didn’t plan to interrupt service after all.
“The situation is dynamic, and if conditions warrant, we will re-evaluate,” said spokesperson Cherie Jacobs.
The two areas under consideration were at the northwest edge of downtown, including the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, the Tampa Bay Times building and the Barrymore Hotel, and the southern tip of downtown, including the Marriott and Embassy Suites hotels and beyond that, Harbour Island and Davis Islands. Tampa General Hospital on Davis Islands would not have been affected, Jacobs said.
“There is where we’re looking at the storm surge and the tides and the wind speed,” Jacobs said earlier in the day. “By shutting down this equipment before the storm comes, it will shorten restoration time after the storm passes. It helps avoid serious damage to certain key equipment that is underground.”
Both places were under mandatory evacuation, she said, and the people affected were told about the potential shutdown.
Duke Energy was not planning to proactively shut off power Tuesday, “but will continue to assess with our meteorologist,” said spokesperson Ana Gibbs.
Tampa Electric is expecting 3,000 workers from other states — line crews, damage assessors, tree trimmers — to be on hand in Florida after the storm. It’s part of the company’s membership in the Southeastern Electric Exchange, a network of utilities that gives assistance in emergencies.
“Hurricane Ian has the potential to cause significant destruction, and we are doing everything we can to prepare for a safe restoration,” Archie Collins, president and CEO of Tampa Electric, said in a news release. “The safety of our customers and employees is our No. 1 priority, and I encourage our customers to prepare for extended power outages. Please stay safe.”
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2022 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide
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WHAT TO EXPECT IN A SHELTER: What to bring — and not bring — plus information on pets, keeping it civil and more.
SAFEGUARD YOUR HOME: Storms and property damage go hand in hand. Here’s how to prepare.
IT'S STORM SEASON: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane.
RISING THREAT: Tampa Bay will flood. Here's how to get ready.
DOUBLE-CHECK: Checklists for building all kinds of hurricane kits
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Rising Threat: A special report on flood risk and climate change
INTERACTIVE MAP: Search your Tampa Bay neighborhood to see the hurricane flood risk.