FPL picks sites for eight new solar power plants

Florida Power & Light Co. announced the names and locations of its 2017 and 2018 solar power projects, consisting of eight new 74.5 MW solar power plants that will be built over the next 12 months.

The following four plants are expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2017:

·      FPL Coral Farms Solar Energy Center, Putnam County

·      FPL Horizon Solar Energy Center, Alachua and Putnam Counties

·      FPL Indian River Solar Energy Center, Indian River County

·      FPL Wildflower Solar Energy Center, DeSoto County

And the remaining four plants are expected to be completed by March 1, 2018:

·      FPL Barefoot Bay Solar Energy Center, Brevard County

·      FPL Blue Cypress Solar Energy Center, Indian River County

·      FPL Hammock Solar Energy Center, Hendry County

·      FPL Loggerhead Solar Energy Center, St. Lucie County

“With the support of communities across the state, we are advancing smart, affordable clean energy infrastructure while keeping customer bills low,” said Eric Silagy, FPL president and CEO. “On a per-megawatt basis, these eight new plants will be the lowest-cost solar ever built in Florida and some of the lowest-cost solar ever built in America. Our steadfast commitment to delivering solar cost-effectively directly benefits our customers, our environment and the economy.”

FPL has been working for several years to find ways to reduce costs in order to bring more universal solar to its customers cost-effectively. Lower costs that come with nearby transmission and substation infrastructure continue to be a driving force behind the selection of FPL’s universal solar sites, as well as the company’s ability to buy solar panels in large quantities – more than 2.5 million solar panels in all across the eight new solar energy centers.

Combined, the new plants are expected to generate enough energy annually to power approximately 120,000 homes and produce net savings for FPL customers of $39 million over their operational lifetime. The net savings are due primarily to the projected reduction in the use of fossil fuels more than offsetting the cost to build the plants.

Construction is expected to commence this spring. At the height of construction, each of the sites is expected to employ about 200 people, for a total of approximately 1,600 jobs.

FPL has been working closely with community leaders, local residents and environmental experts to identify and prepare each of the sites to host the new solar installations, and the company has received widespread support for the investment, which will total approximately $900 million in new solar for Florida.

“The Nature Conservancy wholeheartedly supports Florida’s renewable energy future, and we’re pleased to see FPL’s shared commitment by adding 2.5 million new solar panels at eight new universal solar power plants,” said Greg Knecht, deputy executive director of the Florida Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.

“An additional eight new solar energy centers is a major step toward reducing carbon emissions and saving water, benefitting the earth and all Floridians,” said Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon Florida.

FPL’s universal solar energy centers provide zero-emissions power to the grid and are designed to avoid wetlands and minimize any impact on natural surroundings. The panels sit low to the ground, at about 6 to 8 feet high, on racks that fit directly into the soil and do not require any concrete. Once construction is complete, the plants operate without water, fuel or on-site personnel, placing little to no demand on public services.

“We are proud of our long partnership with FPL,” said Pete Tesch, president of the Economic Development Council of St. Lucie County. “Investing in affordable clean energy infrastructure is one of the many reasons our state is top of mind as best places to live and work. No one understands this better than FPL and they’ve got the track record to show it.”

“I am a snowbird who spends summers in Cape Cod where my electric rates are way higher than FPL’s,” said David Lee Valdina, a retiree and part-time resident of the Barefoot Bay community. “I was impressed with the plans for the new solar plant. In addition to generating more clean energy for us, the solar plant will make an excellent neighbor – quiet and out of sight.”

“We congratulate FPL as they continue to increase the number of solar power facilities and welcome them to Indian River County,” said Penny Chandler, president of the Indian River County Chamber of Commerce. “The construction phase for each project will provide several hundred jobs that will result in a positive impact on our Indian River County community.”

“Our county knows firsthand the value a solar energy center can bring to a local community,” said DeSoto County Commissioner Jim Selph. “The solar energy center FPL built back in 2009, the largest of its kind in the country at the time, put DeSoto County on the map. Since then, people from around the world have come through to tour the solar array. We’re thrilled that FPL is continuing to expand its solar footprint in DeSoto.”

“The expanding clean energy footprint FPL continues to develop is great news, and we love that one of the sites pays homage to the Loggerhead sea turtle. To have a wonderful new solar energy center bearing this special species name is emblematic of FPL’s approach to environmental stewardship and is really going to be meaningful to our community,” said Jack E. Lighton, president and CEO of Loggerhead Marinelife Center, a non-profit education facility and sea turtle hospital dedicated to the conservation and preservation of the marine environment.

“We’re excited that a solar energy center is coming to Alachua County. It will generate new awareness for our community and all that it has to offer while adding renewable energy to our diverse portfolio of industries that are doing business in Alachua,” said Kevin Monroe, chairman of the Council for Economic Outreach for the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce.

FPL consistently ranks as one of the cleanest, most reliable energy providers in the nation, and the price that FPL’s typical, 1,000-kWh residential customer pays for electricity continues to be less than it was more than 10 years ago and well below the latest national average. Furthering this trend, the new solar energy centers are projected to be cost-effective over their operational lifetime, producing millions of dollars in long-term net savings for FPL customers.

The company’s innovative approach to investing in affordable clean energy infrastructure since 2001, which includes adding advanced technologies and phasing out older coal-fired and oil-burning power plants, has saved FPL customers more than $8.6 billion in fossil fuel costs and prevented 108 million tons of carbon emissions.

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com.

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