Three new solar power plants in St. Lucie and Indian River counties will be among eight new facilities Florida Power & Light Co. expects to complete in the next 12 months for a total investment of approximately $900 million, the company said Wednesday.
Construction is expected to begin 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. The sites are an average of about 450 acres.
FPL currently operates more than 335 megawatts of solar generating capacity, enough to power 60,000 homes. Its first solar plant came online in 2009.
Combined, the eight new plants are projected to provide enough power for 120,000 homes.
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, at 122nd Avenue and State Road 60
- FPL Wildflower Solar Energy Center, DeSoto County
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, near Fourth Street and 98th Avenue
- FPL Hammock Solar Energy Center, Hendry County
- FPL Loggerhead Solar Energy Center, St. Lucie County, off Glades Cutoff Road, 7 miles west of Tradition
“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.”
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.
About 65 percent of the components in FPL’s solar plants will be made in the U.S., spokeswoman Alys Daly said.
The new plants are forecast to 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 such as natural gas more than offsetting the cost to build the plants.
“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.”
“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.”
FPL’s investments in 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.
Major FPL solar installations currently in operation
FPL currently operates more than 335 megawatts of solar generating capacity, enough to power 60,000 homes. Major installations include:
●FPL DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center, DeSoto County
●FPL Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center, Brevard County
- FPL Martin Clean Energy Center (hybrid solar/natural gas), Martin County
- FPL Solar Circuit at Daytona International Speedway, Volusia County
- Solar research installation at Florida International University, Miami-Dade County
- FPL SolarNow array at the Broward Young At Art Museum & Library, Broward County
- FPL SolarNow array at the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society, Palm Beach County
- FPL SolarNow array at the Palmetto Estuary Nature Preserve, Manatee County
- FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center, Charlotte County
- FPL Citrus Solar Energy Center, DeSoto County
- FPL Manatee Solar Energy Center, Manatee County