February 06, 2015

Parrish key to FPL’s plans for more solar energy

By: Vicki Parsons - IT

PARRISH — Florida Power & Light plans to triple its current solar capacity — adding nearly 225 megawatts of new solar power — and Parrish is one of three sites central to the plans.

FPL released details about its plans to build substantially more solar energy capacity. Before the end of 2016, FPL plans to build three new solar photovoltaic power plants that are being designed to cost-effectively complement other major system improvements, which include the retirement of some of the company’s oldest fossil fuel-burning units and investment in power generated from natural gas and nuclear fuel.

“Over the past decade, we have continuously focused on advancing reliable, affordable, clean energy for our customers,” said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. “In particular, we have been working especially hard to find ways to advance solar energy in Florida without increasing electricity costs, and we have developed what we believe will be a cost-effective plan to triple the amount of solar energy we use to serve our customers before the end of 2016.”

FPL has said that Parrish is one of three unique sites that will allow for cost-effective development of a new, large-scale solar plant. As the cost of solar power is projected to decline, FPL is optimistic that it could potentially add even more solar energy generation.

Officials with FPL plan to meet with the communities identified as the most likely locations for new solar plants. They are:

  • FPL Manatee Solar Energy Center, the site of an existing natural gas power plant in Manatee County.
  • FPL Citrus Solar Energy Center – DeSoto County, near Florida’s first large-scale solar plant, commissioned in 2009.
  • FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center – Charlotte County, in coordination with the county and the Babcock Ranch community.

Each of the new plants is being designed for roughly 74 megawatts of capacity. With support from the local communities, FPL plans begin construction on the plants later this year and complete them by the end of 2016.

“As the economics of solar power improve in the years ahead, we believe we will be able to harness more and more sunshine cost-effectively,” Silagy said. “These exciting large-scale solar projects, equivalent to roughly 45,000 typical residential rooftop systems, will bring new tax revenue and several hundred new jobs to rural communities we serve and deliver emissions-free power when the sun is shining to our customers across the state.”

The new plants, combined with community-based solar installations and other small-scale arrays that FPL is installing, would total more than 225 megawatts of new solar capacity. This would effectively triple FPL’s solar capacity, which currently totals approximately 110 megawatts.

FPL’s current solar portfolio includes 75 megawatts at the hybrid FPL Martin Next Generation Clean Energy Center; the 25-megawatt FPL DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center; and the 10-megawatt FPL Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

In addition to the new solar plants, FPL intends to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) during the first quarter of 2015 for high-efficiency natural gas generation. Investments in natural gas generation since 2001 have enabled FPL to cut its use of foreign oil by more than 99 percent – from more than 40 million barrels of oil in 2001 to less than 1 million barrels annually.