Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) is making excellent progress on plans for three new large-scale solar energy centers, according to the utility's report to the Florida Public Service Commission's annual Ten-Year Site Plan workshop. Projected for completion by the end of 2016, the three new plants will triple FPL's current solar capacity cost effectively – with no net cost to customers over the plants' operating lifetimes.
The three new Florida solar plants are as follows: FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center (Charlotte County); the FPL Citrus Solar Energy Center (DeSoto County); and the FPL Manatee Solar Energy Center, (Manatee County).
According to FPL, solar power is not yet cost effective in its service area, due, in part, to its higher costs relative to the company's highly-efficient system and low electric rates. However, FPL says it has worked to find ways to cost effectively advance solar. Nonetheless, each site has unique built-in advantages, such as the existence of sufficient transmission and substation infrastructure.
These advantages, combined with support from the local communities, are helping reduce the overall cost of construction and enabling FPL to advance solar cost effectively.
Each of the new plants is being designed for roughly 74 MW of capacity. These plants, along with several community-based, small-scale solar arrays and commercial-scale solar research installations that FPL is building, will combine for a total of more than 225 MW of new solar capacity by the end of 2016. This will triple the utility's solar capacity, which currently totals approximately 110 MW.
FPL selected engineering, procurement and construction firm Black & Veatch to design and build the three plants at a competitive cost. Engineering work is well under way, and FPL expects to officially break ground later this year. Construction activity will be completed in one year.