Florida Power & Light marks construction starts on three 74.5-MW solar projects

Florida Power & Light (FPL) on Feb. 11 celebrated the ground breaking for its three new solar plants with a ceremony on the site of the future FPL Manatee Solar Energy Center.

The three community-scale plants, which include the FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center and the FPL Citrus Solar Energy Center, are expected to begin producing clean energy by the end of 2016 and will triple the company’s current solar capacity.

“Six years ago, not far from here, FPL commissioned what was then the largest photovoltaic solar power plant ever built in the United States with 90,000 solar panels,” said Eric Silagy, FPL president and CEO. “Fast-forward to 2016, and we’re extending our leadership role in the renewable energy space by installing 1 million new solar panels.”

FPL has been working for several years to find ways to reduce costs in order to make the construction of these three solar plants cost-effective. The company identified three suitable existing sites with unique built-in advantages, such as the existence of sufficient transmission and substation infrastructure, and strong community support. Also, by buying solar panels in such a large quantity, FPL has been able to realize significant savings for customers.

“I commend FPL for embracing solar energy and leveraging this technology in a cost-effective way to meet our state’s current and future clean energy needs,” said Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam, who addressed guests at the ground breaking ceremony.

The FPL Manatee Solar Energy Center will consist of more than 338,000 solar panels spread over 762 acres. The other two solar plants are:

  • FPL Citrus Solar Energy Center, which is being built on 841 acres in DeSoto County, near the site of FPL’s first large-scale solar power plant; and
  • FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center, now under construction on 440 acres in Charlotte County as part of the new Babcock Ranch sustainable community.

When completed, each of the three new plants will have 74.5 MW of solar capacity. These plants, along with several community-based, small-scale solar arrays and commercial-scale solar research installations that FPL is building, will combine for a total of more than 225 MW of new solar capacity by the end of this year. This will effectively triple FPL’s solar capacity, which currently totals about 110 MW.

These projects will join the company’s existing solar facilities:

  • the FPL Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center near Cape Canaveral, Fla.;
  • the FPL DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in DeSoto County, Fla.; and
  • the FPL Martin Clean Energy Center, the world’s first hybrid solar/natural gas plant.

These solar plants were built in 2009 and 2010 and have the combined capacity to generate 110 MW. In addition, FPL has built more than 100 solar arrays for Florida schools and other educational facilities, and is currently building solar installations at the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society, the Broward Young At Art Museum & Library, Florida International University, Daytona International Speedway and several other locations around the state.

Florida Power & Light is the third-largest electric utility in the United States, serving more than 4.8 million customer accounts across nearly half of the state of Florida. FPL is a subsidiary of Juno Beach, Fla.-based NextEra Energy (NYSE: NEE).

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.