Florida Power & Light Co. is doubling down on solar power, announcing Monday a significant expansion of renewable energy production through next year.
FPL, currently the largest generator of solar energy in Florida, will build eight new universal solar power plants by early 2018 – boosting its production with more than 2.5 million solar panels.
“We have been working hard to drive down the costs of adding solar,” said FPL President/CEO Eric Silagy, “so we can deliver even more zero-emissions energy to all of our customers.”
FPL was the first company to build cost-effective solar power generation in Florida, Silagy added, promising to lead the advancement of an infrastructure for affordable, clean energy.
“We have proven that it’s possible to cut emissions and deliver reliable service while keeping electric bills low for our customers,” he said during an event Monday morning at the Manatee Solar Energy Center.
The Manatee facility is one of FPL’s three most recently completed solar power plants, along with its Citrus Solar Energy Center and Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center. Each plant began powering FPL customers Dec. 31, 2016.
A subsidiary of Juno Beach-based NextEra Energy, FPL is consistently ranked as one of the nation’s cleanest, most reliable energy providers, as well as one of the most affordable. FPL’s typical 1,000-kilowatt-hour residential customer pays less than 10 years ago, and rates are well below the current national average. The company believes the new solar centers will remain cost-effective over time, with millions of dollars in long-term savings for FPL customers.
Each of the planned eight new solar plants – located throughout Florida — will have a capacity of74.5 megawatts, producing nearly 600 megawatts total – enough to power nearly120,000 homes. The additional facilities will be in addition to the three previously announced locations in Alachua, Putnam and DeSoto counties.
Building is expected to commence this spring, Silagy said, and could create from 200 to 250 jobs during peak construction.
“A year ago, I stood here as FPL broke ground on this solar site, marking the start of the installation of 1 million solar panels that are now producing zero-emissions energy,” said Audubon Florida executive director Eric Draper, who also attended the announcement. “An additional eight new solar energy centers is a major step toward reducing carbon emissions and saving water, benefiting the earth and all Floridians.”
As Florida’s largest rate-regulated electric utility, FPL has more than 4.8 million consumer accounts statewide, making it the third-largest customer base in the United States.