FPL marks construction starts at three solar plants

FPL's Martin County plant is a hybrid solar/natural gas plant. Provided

FPL’s Martin County plant is a hybrid solar/natural gas plant. Photo provided by FPL.

Florida Power & Light Co. today marked the ground breaking of its three new solar plants with a ceremony at the site of its future Manatee Solar Energy Center in Parrish.

The three new large, community-scale plants, which include the FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center and the FPL Citrus Solar Energy Center, are expected to begin producing affordable, clean energy by the end of 2016 and will triple the company’s current solar capacity.The facilities cost approximately $130 million each.

“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,” Silagy said.

“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 Putnam, who addressed guests at the ground breaking ceremony.

The FPL Manatee Solar Energy Center will consist of more than 338,000 solar panels over 762 acres – enough to cover 577 football fields. 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
  • FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center, now under construction on 440 acres in Charlotte County, Fla., as part of the new Babcock Ranch sustainable community

When completed, each of the three new solar plants will have 74.5 megawatts 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 megawatts of new solar capacity by the end of this year. This will effectively triple FPL’s solar capacity, which currently totals approximately 110 megawatts.

The company’s existing solar facilities include 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 megawatts of power.

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.

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