NextEra Energy Inc's FPL power company in Florida on Thursday more than doubled its forecast of power outages from Hurricane Matthew to as many as 2.5 million homes and businesses.
FPL said the storm already had knocked out power to about 25,600 homes and businesses, with about 12,900 still without service. On Wednesday, it predicted outages could reach 1.2 million of its almost 4.9 million customers.
"Some areas of our service territory may experience extended and repeated outages, while others may require a total rebuild of our energy infrastructure," Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL, said in a statement on Thursday.
Matthew was likely to remain a Category 4 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale as it approached the United States, where it could either take direct aim at Florida or brush along the state's coast through Friday night, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said, warning of "potentially disastrous impacts."
The company said it has a workforce of more than 15,000 ready to respond to the storm, including FPL employees and workers from other utilities and electrical contracting companies.
"As long as it's safe, our crews will be out in force restoring power as the first bands of severe weather hit, and we'll work continuously after the storm clears until all customers have power again," FPL's Silagy said.
(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Howard Goller)