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By Lauren Pastrana

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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — The smart grid is getting smarter.

From remote control robots to high-flying drones, Florida Power and Light is using new unmanned technology to locate potential power glitches, before they actually become full-blown problems.

“I’ll tell you, it is making a big difference for customers, not just during storms, but day in and day out,” said Eric Silagy, the President and CEO of the utility.

Silagy said the goal is to be proactive rather than reactive.

On Thursday, FPL executives showed off the improvements at a substation in Fort Lauderdale to U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Dr. Ernest Moniz, and he was impressed by what he saw.

“The best way to have things carry on is to show value. And I believe these investments have shown great value,” Dr. Moniz told CBS 4’s Lauren Pastrana.

Dr. Moniz says FPL’s strategy falls in line with President Obama’s energy priorities outlined just this week in his State of the Union Address.

“Reliability and resilience of the electricity grid is an absolutely core part of the president’s program,” Moniz said.

“We should be proud that our power company down here in south Florida has been so forward thinking. They’ve really concentrated on reducing the impact for consumers,” said South Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

FPL has focused on protecting its substations from storm surge, lessons learned after sending some 1,000 employees to help in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy.

Since 2013, the utility says it has installed real-time water monitors at 233 substations to help prevent against service interruptions.

The CEO says it’s just the beginning.

“We’re always looking at new technology, you see some of that over my shoulder here, and ways that we can apply that so we can keep costs low for customers and reliability high,” Silagy told Pastrana.

All told, FPL says it has spent $2 billion since 2006 in hopes of making its system the most advanced electric grid in the nation.


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