Southeast Florida Roundup
FPL's first-ever commercial drone helps quickly identify and restore power outage issues
FPL has launched the first-ever commercial, fixed-wing drone of its scale designed to capture high-quality images and videos of its infrastructure and thousands of miles of power lines.
Called FPLAir One, the drone is capable of flying from South Florida to the Panhandle and back on a single flight. The device will help maintenance crews identify potential issues before an outage occurs and quickly survey damage to power lines and substations following severe weather outbreaks and hurricanes.
Trained pilots from the company’s Mobile Command Center in West Palm Beach remotely operate FPLAir One.
FPLAir One is equipped with technology that can reveal issues with FPL equipment that are undetectable to the naked eye, such as changes in heat on the equipment, which may help crews take actions to prevent an outage.
The drone can fly in tropical storm force winds, even before technicians are able to begin restoring power, gathering real-time information and identifying the causes of outages. This allows FPL to get the right crews and the right equipment to the right place, speeding restoration efforts. — By Carlton Proctor
- The world’s largest money-management firm, BlackRock, opened an office in West Palm Beach for fixed-income investment leader Rick Rieder, who owns a home in Palm Beach County, and for approximately 35 other snowbird BlackRock employees. Rieder manages $1.7 trillion in assets, about 20% of the firm’s assets.
- Marine Bank opened a branch in downtown Fort Pierce.
- Palm Beach County required landlords to give tenants 60 days’ notice if rents will increase by more than 5% or if they plan to terminate a lease.
- Palm Beach County commissioners trying to ease the county’s housing affordability crisis approved a new land use — essential housing — within the county’s 22,000-acre agricultural reserve area. The county estimates 2,000 new residential units will be created with a quarter of them workforce housing. The new land use will be confined to major roadways Boynton Beach Boulevard, Atlantic Avenue and S.R. 7.
- The state transportation department and private passenger train company Brightline received a $25-million federal grant to help build $45 million in safety measures at 328 road crossings from Miami-Dade to Brevard along the Florida East Coast Railway corridor used by both the freight line and Brightline. The grant is being matched with $20 million from Brightline and the state transportation department. Meanwhile, Brightline finished vertical construction of its new Boca Raton station and parking garage and turns to interior completion. An Aventura station is expected to open this year. Service to Orlando commences in 2023.
- Broward County will spend $15.5 million for a study of the first section of commuter rail service between Aventura and Fort Lauderdale south of the New River. It will ask the federal government for funding to build the service on the Florida East Coast Railway line already used by freight trains and Brightline. Florida Atlantic University and the University of Central Florida, Columbia University, Rutgers and Lehman College received a five-year, $26-million National Science Foundation grant, renewable for another $26 million over five more years, to advance “smart streetscapes” in West Palm Beach, Harlem and New Brunswick, N.J. Smart streetscape tech senses human behavior and responds accordingly with assistance in traffic efficiency and public safety.
- Norse Atlantic Airways announced a new thriceweekly route beginning in December from Fort Lauderdale to Berlin.
- Rising Tide Car Wash, a forprofit business with a mission of employing people with autism, opened a 25-employee Coral Springs location, its third after carwashes in Parkland and Margate.
- Broward and Palm Beach counties and Boca Raton withdrew their bans on counseling that attempts to undo youths’ same-sex attraction. The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in July ruled such counseling is protected by the First Amendment.
- Atlanta-based developer Stonemont Financial Group broke ground on a 1.1-million-sq.-ft. spec logistics center, the largest building in unincorporated St. Lucie County.
- Gov. Ron DeSantis, following the recommendation of a statewide grand jury, suspended four members of the Broward County school board and replaced them with appointees. The grand jury report in 2021 — sealed until August as board members fought its release — faulted members of the board for their handling of safety issues after the Parkland school shooting and their mishandling of an $800-million voter-approved bond issue to renovate schools.
- Broward’s public schools hired 102 teachers from the Philippines to alleviate its shortage of teachers.