This week, the Florida delegation, led by U.S. Reps. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., and Al Lawson, D-Fla., led a letter to FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell regarding supply chain shortages affecting Florida’s electric cooperatives and municipalities.
Recent labor shortages and supply chain issues have created increased delays in delivery times for critical electric grid equipment, including transformers, the most integral pieces in ensuring electricity to homes. Today, electric cooperatives and municipalities in Florida are experiencing delays averaging between 52 to 75 months, with delivery times increasing 20-fold in the past two years. Especially considering that the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season has already begun, predicting tropical storms of above-average strength, the state of Florida is now ill-equipped to handle these storms as the absence of a stockpile means restoration efforts for local communities will take substantially longer than usual.
The letter asks that FEMA employ immediate mitigation efforts with local Florida electric companies to ensure that transformers, bare wires, meters, and other electric grid equipment will be available ahead of the first disaster.
“As the ranking member on the Subcommittee for Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery, this is an urgent matter that requires immediate attention from FEMA,” said Cammack. “We’ve seen the devastation that hurricanes, tropical storms, and other disasters have had on Florida in the past, and mitigation efforts play a vital role in restoring our communities across the state. If these electric cooperatives and municipalities do not have the products necessary to repair damages in the event of a disaster, Floridians will face extreme hardships caused by prolonged periods of time living without electricity. This matter is one that FEMA must address urgently, and I’m pleased to join Rep. Lawson in leading this letter with my colleagues.”
Original signers of the letter include U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., Kathy Castor, D-Fla., Charlie Crist, D-Fla., Val Demings, D-Fla., Ted Deutch, D-Fla., Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., Byron Donalds, R-Fla., Neal Dunn, R-Fla., Lois Frankel, D-Fla., Scott Franklin, R-Fla., Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla., Brian Mast, R-Fla., Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., Bill Posey, R-Fla., John Rutherford, R-Fla., Maria Elvira Salazar, R-Fla., Darren Soto, D-Fla., Michael Waltz, R-Fla., Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., Dan Webster, R-Fla., and Frederica Wilson, D-Fla.
The letter is below.
Dear Administrator Criswell,
We write today to inform you of the dangerous supply chain shortages affecting Florida’s electric cooperatives and municipalities. Labor shortages and competition from other industries for steel have made equipment procurement difficult. As a result, critical electric grid equipment delivery times have increased 20-fold in the past 2 years. Transformers, the most integral pieces in ensuring electricity to homes, took only 3 months to be delivered in 2018. Currently, delivery delays for transformers are averaging 52 to 75 months, and some manufacturers are not even taking orders.
This is particularly concerning given that the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season is forecasted to produce hurricanes and tropical storms of above-average strength. As the onset of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season approaches, we urge FEMA to mitigate this issue before a severe hurricane or tropical storm devastates our Floridian communities.
Each year, Florida electric cooperatives and municipalities prepare for the upcoming hurricane season by stockpiling supplies. When disasters occur, destroyed equipment needs to be replaced to ensure quick power restoration. The severe delay of critical parts has made this preparation nearly impossible, leaving many electric companies without reserves. It would take only one hurricane or severe tropical storm to cause devastating damage to our constituents, and with the absence of a stockpile, power restoration for these communities would take substantially longer than previous years.
Local electric utilities play a critical role in the growth and development of the communities they serve. Unfortunately, these new supply chain issues adversely affect the growth and management of these communities. Without proper equipment, local utilities must triage parts, which delays upgrades and “non-essential” repairs. The weakened systems will make them more susceptible to damage when disaster occurs. FEMA must employ mitigation efforts with the local Florida electric community to ensure that transformers, bare wire, meters, and other electric grid equipment will be available ahead of the first disaster.
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