Florida Power & Light Company, the largest generator of solar energy in Florida, announced the expansion of its near-term plans for new universal solar generation. FPL now plans to build new universal solar power plants at eight locations by early 2018 – comprising more than 2.5 million solar panels.
"We have been working hard to drive down the costs of adding solar so we can deliver even more zero-emissions energy to all of our customers. As the first company to build solar power generation cost effectively in Florida, we are proud to continue leading the advancement of affordable clean energy infrastructure. We have proven that it's possible to cut emissions and deliver reliable service while keeping electric bills low for our customers," said Eric Silagy, FPL president and CEO, during a celebration at the FPL Manatee Solar Energy Center, one of the company's three most recently completed solar power plants.
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 FPL plans to build are projected to be cost-effective over their operational lifetime, producing millions of dollars in long-term net savings for FPL customers.
Each of the eight new solar plants will be 74.5MW in capacity for a total of nearly 600MW, which is enough to power approximately 120,000 homes. The plants will be located at sites across Florida, including three previously announced locations in Alachua, Putnam and DeSoto counties. The locations of all of the new sites will be announced in the coming weeks.
Construction is expected to commence this spring. During peak construction, an estimated 200 to 250 people will be working at each site.
FPL announced its accelerated solar plans at a community event held on February 20 with hundreds of students and leaders from across the state who gathered to celebrate the company's latest completed solar power plants – FPL Manatee Solar Energy Center, FPL Citrus Solar Energy Center and FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center, all of which began powering FPL customers on Dec. 31, 2016.
"A year ago, I stood here as FPL broke ground on this solar site, marking the start of the installation of one million solar panels that are now producing zero-emissions energy," said Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon Florida, at the celebration today. "An additional eight new solar energy centers is a major step toward reducing carbon emissions and saving water, benefitting the earth and all Floridians."
Building on FPL's long-standing commitment to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, the celebration event also included a solar-powered competition co-sponsored by the Florida Solar Energy Center. Nearly 50 teams of students in grades 4 through 12 from schools across the state participated in the competition, building solar ovens, solar race cars and other innovative projects.
Today, FPL owns more than 335MW of large-scale solar generating capacity, enough to power 6,000 homes. In addition, FPL has installed small-scale solar arrays for more than 100 Florida schools and other educational facilities. The company is cleaner than the carbon emissions goal set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan for Florida to meet by 2030, while the company's typical residential customer bills are among the lowest in the nation.