By - Jim Vess

Florida Power & Light to build four solar facilities, adding nearly 300 MW of capacity

Energize Weekly, March 13, 2019

Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) announced last week that it plans to build four additional solar power installations, with a total of 298 megawatts (MW) of capacity. The plants are slated to go on line in 2020.

The utility has committed to one of the largest expansions of solar in the eastern U.S., with the goal of adding 30 million solar panels by 2030 at 100 sites—giving the utility 11,000 MW of installed solar capacity.

FPL, the nation’s third largest electric utility with five million customers, has about 1,250 MW of universal solar capacity at 18 solar power plants and hundreds of smaller installations.

Each of the announced solar facilities will have 74.5 MW of capacity, enough to power 60,000 homes. FPL estimates the use of cheaper solar generation could over time lead to $26 million in net savings.

Two of the sites are in south Florida, in Palm Beach and Okeechobee counties. A third is in Manatee County, just south of St. Petersburg. The fourth installation will be in Suwannee County, west of Jacksonville.

“The construction of four additional solar energy centers is just the latest demonstration of our laser focus on advancing solar energy for all of our customers, while keeping their bills lower than 90 percent of the country,” Eric Silagy, FPL CEO, said in a statement.

At peak construction, each FPL solar plant employs about 200 workers. FPL estimates that about 3,000 jobs have been created since 2016 when the company embarked on one of the largest solar expansions in the country.

In 2018, Florida ranked second in the nation after California for solar jobs with 10,358 people employed in the sector—a 21 percent increase over 2017.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity projects solar jobs to grow by more than 60 percent through 2026, compared to statewide job growth of about 10 percent, FPL said.

FPL has also begun combining battery storage with some of its solar facilities, In February 2018, FPL added a 4-MW, 16-megawatt-hour (MWh) battery storage at its Citrus Energy Center in DeSoto County.

One month later, the utility announced plans for a 10-MW, 40-MWh storage project at the 74.5-MW Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center in Charlotte County.

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