Florida Power & Light Co. has announced the latest major milestones in its ongoing strategy of advancing clean energy affordably for customers: the retirement of one of Florida's largest coal-fired power plants and the opening of four new solar power plants comprised of more than 1 million solar panels.
These advancements will further improve FPL's carbon emissions profile, which is already approximately 30 percent cleaner than the U.S. industry average. At the same time, FPL's typical 1,000-kWh residential customer bill remains approximately 25 percent lower than the U.S. average. Moreover, FPL's typical customer bill is lower today than it was during the year 2008.
"The truth is progress like this doesn't happen by accident. It's because of our culture of responsible innovation and an unwavering commitment to customers that we're able to deliver cleaner, more reliable energy while keeping electric bills among the lowest in the country," said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL.
"FPL has a forward-looking strategy of making smart, innovative, long-term investments, including solar, to reduce emissions while providing affordable clean energy for its customers," said Julie Wraithmell, interim executive director of Audubon Florida.
"Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is critical to addressing climate change," said Greg Knecht, deputy executive director of the Florida chapter of The Nature Conservancy. "Any time we can replace less-efficient sources of energy with cleaner fuels or solar, it's a benefit for people and nature. Investments such as FPL's in clean-energy technologies are key to Florida's future health and prosperity."
Solar plant openings
On Jan. 1, 2018, the following new plants began powering FPL customers:
- FPL Horizon Solar Energy Center, located in Alachua and Putnam counties
- FPL Coral Farms Solar Energy Center, Putnam County
- FPL Indian River Solar Energy Center, Indian River County
- FPL Wildflower Solar Energy Center, DeSoto County
The company also expects to complete construction on another four solar plants soon:
- FPL Barefoot Bay Solar Energy Center, Brevard County (entering service by March 1, 2018)
- FPL Blue Cypress Solar Energy Center, Indian River County (entering service by March 1, 2018)
- FPL Hammock Solar Energy Center, Hendry County (entering service by March 1, 2018)
- FPL Loggerhead Solar Energy Center, St. Lucie County (entering service by March 1, 2018)
At 74.5 megawatts each, these solar plants – which encompass approximately 2.6 million solar panels – total nearly 600 megawatts of new zero-emissions energy capacity.
FPL's new solar plants are designed to effectively pay for themselves over their operational lifetimes. In fact, the eight solar plants entering service in 2018 are projected to generate more than $100 million in savings for FPL customers over and above the cost of construction.
Across Florida, FPL has installed more than 3.5 million new solar panels in less than two years. By 2023, FPL expects to grow this to more than 10 million solar panels.
Coal plant closure
Late last week, the aging coal-fired St. Johns River Power Park in Jacksonville, Fla., was officially retired by co-owners FPL and JEA, the municipal electric provider for the City of Jacksonville. The approximately 1,300-megawatt plant served customers of the two utilities well for many years, but it was no longer economical to operate – the plant was one of the highest-cost generating facilities to operate and maintain for both FPL's and JEA's systems. Closure of the plant is projected to prevent more than 5.6 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually and save FPL customers an estimated $183 million.
In 2016, FPL shut down the Cedar Bay Generating Plant, another coal plant located in Jacksonville – preventing nearly 1 million tons of carbon emissions annually and saving customers a projected $70 million. In addition, FPL plans to phase out its last coal plant in Florida, the Indiantown Cogeneration plant, which is projected to prevent more than 657,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually and save customers an estimated $129 million.
Keeping customer bills low
While the prices of almost all products and services have risen in recent years, FPL's typical 1,000-kWh residential customer bill has remained low. It is currently approximately 25 percent lower than the national average.