October 04, 2022

100% solar-powered Babcock Ranch endures Hurricane Ian with no loss of power.

By: Vicki Parsons - IT

People use Babcock Ranch as a shelter.

Nergis Firtina
Nergis Firtina

Created: Oct 03, 2022

Solar panels of Babcock Ranch.
Solar panels of Babcock Ranch.
Jeff Greenberg/Getty Images 

Have you ever heard of Babcock Ranch? Located only 12 miles (19.31 km) northeast of Fort Myers, Florida, Babcock Ranch calls itself “America’s first solar-powered town.” And this town has proven how durable it is.

Let’s learn how.

Babcock Ranch is made up of 700 thousand individual panels, which generates more electricity than the 2000-home neighborhood uses.

According to CNN, in this perfectly planned neighborhood, the streets were built to flood so houses wouldn’t. Along roadways, native landscaping aids with stormwater management. In order to prevent wind damage, power and internet lines are buried. In addition to all of this, Florida’s strict building regulations were followed.

Babcock Ranch, which defines itself as “the hometown of tomorrow,” the residents can also install their energy panels beside the solar energy the city offers them. They also add battery systems as an extra layer of protection from power outages.

Babcock Ranch’s test with Hurricane Ian

The Atlantic Ocean has been in trouble lately with Hurricane Ian. Hurricane Ian affected many countries in the Caribbean as well as the USA. Meanwhile, Babcock Ranch is trying to survive the hurricane.

The storm’s record-breaking surges and winds of over 100 mph completely destroyed the nearby communities of Fort Myers and Naples. More than 2.6 million consumers in the state lost power, including 90 percent of Charlotte County.

100% solar-powered Babcock Ranch endures Hurricane Ian with no loss of power

A view from Babcock Ranch.
Babcock Ranch

“It certainly exceeded our expectations of a major hurricane,” Anthony Grande told CNN, who moved away from Fort Myers three years ago in large part because of the hurricane risk and settled down at Babcock Ranch.

The storm uprooted trees and ripped shingles from roofs, but there is no major damage, according to Grande. Babcock Ranch’s residents say the town is proof that an eco-conscious, solar-powered community can withstand the wrath of a near-Category five storm

“We have proof of the case now because [the hurricane] came right over us,” Nancy Chorpenning, a 68-year-old Babcock Ranch resident, told CNN.

“We have water, electricity, internet — and we may be the only people in Southwest Florida who are that fortunate.”

“We’re very, very blessed and fortunate to not be experiencing what they’re experiencing now in Sanibel Island and Fort Myers Beach,” Grande also said.

“In the times that we’re living in right now with climate change, the beach is not the place to live or have a business.”

Babcock Ranch as a shelter

Some of Chorpenning’s friends from Sanibel Island, which is now cut off from the mainland due to Ian’s devastating storm surge, sought refuge at a friend’s house in Babcock Ranch. They won’t be able to return for a while, she said.

“They’re going to be renting a place over here for a while, while they figure out what’s going to happen out there,” she said. “I joked that we may be the only people in southwest Florida whose property value just increased.”

Residents of Babcock claim that their community serves as a blueprint for urban growth in a world devastated by climate change.

“It’s not what it was 20 or 25 years ago; the storms are getting bigger and bigger, and it’s no surprise because the warnings have all been there,” Grande said. “I think Babcock Ranch’s future has gotten even brighter.”