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Power during Tropical Storm Eta: Here’s what you should know

Tampa Bay’s two main power companies are ready for the incoming storm.
A Duke Energy crew member works to restore power in Tarpon Springs after Hurricane Irma. [CHRIS URSO | Times (2017)]
A Duke Energy crew member works to restore power in Tarpon Springs after Hurricane Irma. [CHRIS URSO | Times (2017)]
Published Nov. 11, 2020
Updated Nov. 11, 2020

Tampa Bay power companies representatives say they are ready to respond to Tropical Storm Eta, which was expected to make landfall Thursday.

“We have been prepared for several days now as this storm has come up across the southern part of the state and now up the coast," Duke Energy Florida spokeswoman Ana Gibbs said.

Both Duke Energy and Tampa Electric Co. say they have employees ready to restore power if needed.

Duke Energy is anticipating outages along its coastal territory because of the storm’s strong winds. The utility’s territory stretches from Pinellas County, where it has half a million customers, to Mexico Beach in the Panhandle. As of 1 p.m., the storm had maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Duke Energy called in 350 contractors from their branches in the Midwest and North and South Carolina to help with any power restoration necessary after the storm.

Tampa Electric spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs said the utility didn’t bring in outside crews based on the storm’s forecast as of Wednesday.

“Were keeping an eye on things,” she said. “We are prepared for outages because we’re already seeing some weather, although not severe yet.”

Both utilities said they are suspending disconnections for customers who can’t pay their bills during the storm.

“As conditions change, we may extend it if needed,” Jacobs said.

Neither will preemptively shut off power for any customers, they said. This is a rumor that typically crops up when a storm is nearing Florida.

They will also not demand payment by phone threatening an imminent shut-off.

“That’s not the way we do business,” Gibbs said.

Gibbs encouraged customers with medical conditions that require power to consult with their health care providers to establish a plan for their needs during and after the storm.

If you experience an outage, Duke Energy customers can use the company’s mobile app, text “OUT” to 57801, call 800-228-8485 or visit duke-energy.com. To receive outage alerts, visit https://www.duke-energy.com/outages/alerts.

Tampa Electric customers can report outages with one click at tecoaccount.com, by texting “OUT” to 35069, going online to tampaelectric.com/outages or calling 877-588-1010.

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2020 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide

HURRICANE SEASON IS HERE: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane

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