May 10, 2016

Florida building world’s first solar-powered town

By: Vicki Parsons - IT

Beginning new era of smart growth?

April 22, 2016

Kelsey Ramírez

Everything is about to change for a small area in Southwest Florida as Kitson & Partnersunveiled today their development of the world’s first solar powered town.

Babcock Ranch, when finished, is not only the nation’s largest development currently underway, but will also be the first town primarily powered by the sun.

“Babcock Ranch will exemplify what it means to be a town of the future, offering residents a highly unique balance of the most technologically advanced infrastructure and amenities, with ready access to a rich natural environment and a true sense of community,” said Syd Kitson, Kitson & Partners Chairman and CEO.

“Less than a year from today, the first residents will be settling into a whole new way of life, one that is conscientious, engaging and connected,” Kitson said. “We are fortunate to have incredible partners who have worked with us from the ground up to build a town that will meet the diverse needs of families, employers, neighbors, businesses, surrounding communities and the natural environment for generations to come.”

Phase one of the development will be completed in 2017, and will house 1,100 residents. After the development is completed, it will house about 50,000 residents, and will comprise of 19,500 residences, a downtown area, six million square feet of commercial and community space and utilize the other half of the town’s area for nature spaces.

A 443-acre solar power plant will be located in the town, with the goal of making Babcock Ranch the world’s first new town where solar energy production exceeds the total energy consumption from day one. The FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Centerwill supply the community and surrounding areas with 74.5 megawatts of clean, renewable solar energy.

“We’ve been working hard to cost-effectively bring more emissions-free universal-scale solar to Florida for more than 10 years,” FPL president and CEO Eric Silagy said.

As far as market demand, a recent study on solar power in the residential market revealed that there is demand from homebuyers for solar energy homes, finding that buyers consistently have been willing to pay more for homes with photovoltaic energy systems.

In fact, a study from The Appraisal Journal, the academic publication of one of the nation’s largest association of appraisers, shows that homes that use solar panels are sold at a premium.

In other parts of the country, homebuyers who want to go greener with solar energy are facing some challenges, however banks are starting to get on board, making it easier for homeowners to own their solar panels.