LEE COUNTY, Fla. - In Hurricane Central, our skytracker meteorologists are always tracking the tropics. Right now, we're keeping an eye on Tropical Storm Barry. There aren't any storms threatening southwest Florida, but one of the largest utility cooperatives in the country, LCEC, is prepared for disaster.
It has something called a portable substation, or a portable transformer. If the power blows in your area, they can tow the portable substation over to your neighborhood, use it to turn the power back on for thousands of homes.
It's large and in charge.
"It's all about contingency planning so having a backup plan is half the battle," said LCEC spokeswoman Karen Ryan.
Ryan says if a major storm wipes out electricity, LCEC can tow this portable substation to the scene. It can be used alone, or, can be hooked up to another substation to generate power for thousands of homes.
"If a substation is out of service, a lot of customers will be out of service. And you can't really restore the other lines in the neighborhoods until the substation is repaired," said Ryan.
It costs almost a million dollars, and was purchased through a partnership. "Interestingly enough, we purchased this from Florida Power and Light. They had it but it wasn't configured for their system," Ryan said.
The inside of this equipment is filled with oil and that's to keep things cool. That brings the total weight of it to 58 tons.
It's not the only weapon LCEC has to battle impending storms. Out of storm season, it tries to keep its inventory low so equipment isn't sitting around. But during hurricane season, equipment of all shapes and sizes fills the back lot.
"When its storm season, we can start gearing and we make sure that we have materials ready that if a storm were to impact our area, they are available," Ryan said.
Ryan says LCEC has already gotten its moneys worth out of that portable substation over the years. They can use it as another source of power when they need to make repairs.