Duke Energy announced it expects to have fully restored lost electrical service to the Central Florida portions of its service area  by midnight Sunday, but the hard hit counties of Hardee and Highlands likely will wait longer.

Duke’s announcement came Tuesday afternoon before the latest update from the Florida Office of Emergency Management. At 6 p.m. that update showed 4.7 million Florida homes and businesses, 45 percent of the state, was without power.

Duke provides power to about 1 million of them, and reported by mid-day Tuesday it had restored power to about 375,000 more in its service area.

Duke provides power in parts of Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia counties in Central Florida.

The company also provides power in Alachua, Bay, Citrus, Columbia, Dixie, Flagler, Franklin, Gilchrist, Gulf, Hamilton, Hernando, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Levy, Madison, Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sumter, Suwannee, Taylor, and Wakulla, can expect power by midnight Sunday.

The Pasco and Pinellas customers should be back on the grid by midnight Friday, Duke announced.

As for Hardee and Highlands, where power was out for more than 90 percent at one point, they are now down to 69 and 77 percent of customers – homes and businesses – still without power.

South Florida continues to be where the most people were without power by Tuesday evening. In Miami-Dade County, 623,000 customers were without; in Broward County, 439,000; and Palm Beach County, 375,000.

Pinellas was among the three worst with as many as 423,000 without power at noon, but that has dropped to 338,000, 61 percent of the county by the evening report.

Collier County now is the most impacted, with 86 percent, or 212,000 customers, still without power going into Tuesday night. Monroe and Liberty counties also were still above 80 percent without power in the 6 p.m. update.

In Central Florida, the state numbers showed 173,000 customers, or 56 percent, without power in Brevard; 84,000, or 47 percent, in Lake; 234,000, or 40 percent, in Orange; 32,000, or 21  percent in Osceola; 118,000, or 52 percent, in Seminole; and 164,000, or 57 percent, in Volusia.

Restoration in the severely impacted areas of Hardee and Highlands County may extend beyond Sunday due to rebuilding the electrical system that suffered significant damage in those areas, Duke noted in a press release.

“Our crews are focused on restoring the largest amount of customers each day and that means some customers will see their service restored much earlier,” Harry Sideris, Duke Energy Florida president, stated in the press release. “As crews respond to make repairs and restore service, specific estimated times of restoration will be updated for individual areas and customers. We have a workforce of more than 12,000 committed to this restoration effort. We are not stopping until the job is complete.”

The state figures show steady yet relatively slow service restoration in much of the state besides Pinellas since the last update at noon Tuesday.

Orange  had 297,000 customers without power at noon, or 51 percent, is now down to 234,000, or 40 percent. Another 45,000 customers got power restored in Lee County, which is down to 311,000 without power, still 71 percent of the county. In Hillsborough, 191,000 customers remained without power at 6 p.m., down from 227,000 at noon. Now, 70 percent of Hillsborough has power. In Duval, more than 50,000 customers got power restored this afternoon and 109,000, or 24 percent, still did not have power at 6 p.m.

About The Author

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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