Florida Power & Light Co. last month installed the first of nearly 1 million new solar panels along the Treasure Coast at the future FPL Blue Cypress Solar Energy Center in Indian River County. The company is building three new universal solar energy centers in the Treasure Coast area – two in Indian River County and one in St. Lucie County – that will begin generating clean, emissions-free energy cost effectively starting early next year.
The Treasure Coast facilities are part of one of the largest solar expansion plans ever in the eastern U.S., as FPL constructs and places into service a total of eight new solar power plants by early 2018. Combined, the new solar power plants are comprised of more than 2.5 million solar panels with nearly 600 megawatts of solar capacity – enough energy to power 120,000 homes.
The company plans to build all of the new universal solar capacity cost-effectively – meaning that these investments will result in net savings for FPL customers over and above the cost of construction. FPL estimates the eight new plants will generate millions of dollars in net lifetime savings for its customers.
"FPL continues to rethink the way we view energy in Florida," said Senate President Joe Negron. "The company's cost-effective solar expansion not only brings the benefits of clean solar energy to everyone, it also acts as a major economic driver by creating hundreds of construction jobs in our communities."
Construction of solar power plants happens in stages – starting with land clearing, installing pilings and racking, and finally installing photovoltaic (PV) panels and hooking them up to the energy grid. FPL expects the construction workforce across all eight sites to grow to approximately 1,500 during the peak activity this summer.
Through a partnership with Veterans Florida, Indian River State College and others, FPL is connecting U.S. military veterans with careers in solar. Veterans are not only helping to build the company's eight new solar sites in 2017, they will also play an important role in building even more solar projects in the years ahead.
FPL is also partnering with Audubon Florida to advance solar energy while improving the environmental values of the land where the solar plants are sited. Audubon and its local chapters are recommending bird and pollinator-friendly vegetation for the solar plants to help make these facilities home to wildlife and nature.
"We're working with FPL to advance solar energy in Florida while conserving precious water resources and protecting our environment," said Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon Florida. "Partnerships like this are what make Florida such a great place to live, and we're proud to have such a good corporate citizen like FPL to work with to ensure that solar benefits local communities."
The eight new FPL solar plants under construction and their expected completion dates are:
- FPL Horizon Solar Energy Center, Alachua and Putnam counties (by Dec. 31, 2017)
- FPL Coral Farms Solar Energy Center, Putnam County (by Dec. 31, 2017)
- FPL Indian River Solar Energy Center, Indian River County (by Dec. 31, 2017)
- FPL Wildflower Solar Energy Center, DeSoto County (by Dec. 31, 2017)
- FPL Barefoot Bay Solar Energy Center, Brevard County (by March 1, 2018)
- FPL Blue Cypress Solar Energy Center, Indian River County (by March 1, 2018)
- FPL Hammock Solar Energy Center, Hendry County (by March 1, 2018)
- FPL Loggerhead Solar Energy Center, St. Lucie County (by March 1, 2018)