September 20, 2016

FPL says it hits half-million new solar panels

By: Vicki Parsons - IT

By Staff report

Sep 15, 2016 at 10:52 AM

Florida Power & Light Co., which bills itself as the largest generator of solar power in Florida, said Thursday that it had completed the installation of half of the 1 million new solar panels it plans to add by the end of this year to power its customers.

The Juno Beach-based company — the primary power provider in Manatee, Sarasota and Charlotte counties — said the panels are in three new solar energy centers, each of which will provide 74.5 megawatts of generating capacity, making them among the largest in the eastern United States.

“We’re tripling the amount of solar energy we generate for our customers this year,” FPL CEO Eric Silagy said. “Laid end to end, the 1 million solar panels would just about wrap around the entire coastline of Florida.”

FPL operates 110 megawatts of large-scale universal solar at three sites in Florida.

The three new centers in Manatee, DeSoto and Charlotte counties, along with several commercial-scale installations, will produce more than 225 new solar megawatts in 2016.

In Charlotte County, it is the FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center. In DeSoto County, there is the FPL Citrus Solar Energy Center, which is under construction. The FPL Manatee Solar Energy Center also is under construction.

Operating already are solar centers at Daytona International Speedway in Volusia County; at Florida International University in Miami-Dade County; at the Broward Young At Art Museum & Library in Broward County; and at the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society in Palm Beach County.

Meanwhile, Florida’s utilities continue to pour money into a political action committee backing a proposed solar-energy ballot initiative, which, if approved by voters, would essentially put into the state Constitution existing rules on the use of solar energy in Florida. From Aug. 27 to Sept. 2, the companies pumped $900,000 into the group, known as “Consumers for Smart Solar.” The committee had raised an overall total of nearly $21.2 million and had $5.3 million in cash on hand as of Sept. 2.

Amendment 1 has drawn opposition from environmentalists and some other groups, which argue that the amendment is an attempt to block the private market for solar energy in Florida, not to expand consumer choice.