Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL) recently announced a new community solar program that would offer FPL customers the opportunity to directly participate in Florida's transformation to a world leader in solar energy.
Through this voluntary program, participating customers will help accelerate the cost-effective growth of solar in Florida by subscribing to a portion of new solar power capacity, and in return, they will receive credits that are expected to reduce their monthly bills over time.
"We’ve been aggressively expanding solar with one goal in mind: bringing more solar to all of our customers cost effectively while continuing to keep their bills lower than 90% of the country," said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. "This innovative program is another major step forward in our '30-by-30' plan, which is one of the world's largest solar expansions, and also an unprecedented opportunity for our customers to harness the power of the sun like never before."
FPL SolarTogether will significantly expand solar energy in Florida. If cleared by the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC), FPL plans to install 1,490 MW of new universal solar at 20 new solar power plants across FPL's service territory – which will be the largest community solar program in the United States – to meet anticipated customer enrollment. Built cost-effectively, the new solar power plants attributed to the program are projected to generate an estimated US$139 million in net savings for customers over the long term, primarily from avoided fuel and other system savings. Participating customers will receive direct credits for the savings on their monthly bills, and the program is designed to also contribute a portion of the savings to all customers, which will help keep fuel costs low for everyone.
According to the Solar Energy Industry of America's latest information, a total of 1,298 MW of community solar has been installed in the United States through the third quarter of last year.
"This program will more than double the amount of community solar currently in the U.S.," said Silagy. "More importantly, FPL SolarTogether will allow individual customers to personally support Florida's affordable, clean energy revolution while lowering their electric rates and bills over the long term."
FPL studied community solar programs offered throughout the country, including Florida. The result is a next generation solar option for customers that offers flexibility, convenience and is not subject to the confines of their location. Program participants will not be tied to a long term contract and can terminate or reduce their subscription at any time. In addition, because the subscription is associated with a customer account and not a physical address, program participants who move within FPL's service area can maintain their subscription benefits. FPL expects program participants to achieve a simple payback on their subscription within seven years. FPL also will retire Renewable Energy Certificates or RECs on behalf of participants who are looking to meet sustainability goals.
In order to gauge potential customer interest in a program like this, FPL has been working with its largest energy users, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. More than 200 of FPL's largest energy users – including municipalities, large national retail chains, universities, banks, restaurants and schools – have committed to participate, providing the foundation for such a large program.
"Include Miami-Dade County among the advocates and early endorsers of FPL's SolarTogether program," said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Giménez. "A 'Resilient 305' means embracing sustainable and environmentally responsible options to promote the growth and utilization of smart, affordable solar energy sources to secure power for Miami-Dade County facilities and allow residents and businesses to reap the benefits of zero emissions and cost savings."
"Reducing our impact on the environment is a major focus for 7‑Eleven and shifting to renewable energy is important to our progress," said Ann Scott, director of energy, engineering and store planning for 7-Eleven. "We're strongly encouraged by the rapid growth of large solar plants in one of our key states, Florida. The FPL SolarTogether program brings us one step closer to achieving 7-Eleven's sustainability goals. With over 500 participating stores in Florida, we are making significant strides to reduce our carbon footprint."
The new energy centers built through the program will increase the use of solar power on the energy grid, helping to offset the use of other power plants fueled by non-renewable resources. As a result, all FPL customers, including those who do not participate in FPL SolarTogether, will benefit from the fuel savings produced by the new solar facilities. The first six solar plants, each of which will have about 300,000 solar panels and be capable of generating 74.5 MW of solar, are scheduled to be operational in early 2020, with the remaining 14 facilities planned for 2021. FPL has already secured enough land to build all these plants and the company plans to announce the individual locations in the future.
"FPL's SolarTogether program provides an innovative approach to addressing business and residential needs for embracing clean energy in Florida and cost-effectively expanding the Sunshine State's renewable energy footprint," said Tim Center, executive director of Tallahassee-based, Sustainable Florida. "This initiative chalks up major wins for Florida's environment and sustainability."
For more information about FPL SolarTogether, visit FPL.com/SolarTogether.