Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida Power & Light goal: 3 solar plants in 2009

Florida Power & Light, the state's largest utility, announced Wednesday it plans to build three solar energy plants in Florida, including one that would be the biggest of its kind in the world.

The three plants in South and Central Florida will cost $688-million and represent the first commercial-scale renewable energy to be installed in the state. Combined they will be capable of generating enough electricity for 35,000 homes and businesses, which — while small — marks a big step up for solar technology.

FPL Group chairman and CEO Lewis Hay III made the announcement at a two-day state Climate Change Summit in Miami hosted by Gov. Charlie Crist. "Pending regulatory approval, FPL will build 110 megawatts of solar power right here in the Sunshine State, making Florida No. 2 in the nation for solar energy," Hay said.

Hay credited a new energy bill signed Wednesday by Crist "that put a supportive policy framework in place for solar power."

The governor opened his second climate summit saying now is the time "to define our next step forward" for the "green future of the Sunshine State."

FPL's solar plants are part of a seven-year plan announced by the company last September to install 300 megawatts of solar energy in Florida. "The announcement today is a little over one-third of that in less than one year," said FPL president Armando Olivera.

"We think that is pretty good," he added, saying that sites for all three plants had been selected and permits granted. Contracts for the solar technology are due to be signed in the next few days.

Construction of the plants should begin later this year, and the plants would become operational some time in 2009, he said.

The company is awaiting final approval by the state Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities. "That's the only thing we are missing," he said.

The news was welcomed by clean energy activists who have long argued that utilities were not doing enough to invest in solar energy, the world's cleanest renewable energy source. In the past, utilities said Florida's skies were too cloudy to make solar power cost-effective as a reliable energy source, unlike the Southwest — where FPL Group already operates a big solar plant in the Mojave Desert.

Wednesday's news "needs to be applauded," said Stephen Smith, director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. "By going to this kind of utility scale of production they are showing that solar does have potential in Florida, and that will drive cost down further."

FPL says it is has another five solar projects in the works in Florida. "The technology is improving almost daily," said Olivera. "It's becoming more cost-effective."

When carbon emissions begin to be penalized financially, as some governments already are doing, that would make emissions-free solar energy even more competitive, he added.

A 25-megawatt facility in De Soto County will be "the world's largest photovoltaic solar panel facility," the company says. A second 10-megawatt solar panel facility will be built at the Kennedy Space Center.

A larger 75-megawatt solar thermal facility will be built at FPL's existing Martin County plant, which runs on natural gas. By adding the new solar thermal technology, which uses intense heat from the sun to power steam turbines, the company hopes to create "the world's first hybrid energy center," allowing it to switch off its fossil-fuel gas-fired plant when there's enough sun.

Each sunrise will be the equivalent "of taking our foot off the gas pedal," Hay said.

FPL's solar plans may help offset the negative image of its much-vaunted Sunshine Energy Program, which charges customers a voluntary $9.75 monthly fee to help develop green energy.

Nearly 39,000 Florida Power & Light customers gave the company $11.4-million over four years to develop green energy, but a report this week by Florida's Public Service Commission shows most of the money went toward administrative and marketing costs.

The program "does not currently serve the interest of the program's participants," the report found.

FAST FACTS

Energy law boosts solar power

Key pro-solar provisions in the energy bill signed by Gov. Charlie Crist at Wednesday's climate change summit:

• The value of solar equipment can't be added to the value of a home for tax assessment purposes.

• Net metering, the utility industry term for the way power companies compensate consumers for solar power they privately contribute to the grid, must be standardized statewide.

• New solar panel manufacturers that create at least 400 new jobs in the state can receive a capital investment tax credit.



Florida Power & Light goal: 3 solar plants in 2009 06/25/08 [Last modified: Friday, June 27, 2008 7:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Remember him? Numbers prove Ben Zobrist is one of greatest Rays of all time

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first foray back to the Trop by the best manager the Rays have had obscured the second return visit by arguably the second-best player in franchise history.

    Figures.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) takes the field to start the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
  2. GOP's new repeal bill would likely leave millions more uninsured, analyses suggest

    Health

    WASHINGTON — The latest Republican bid to roll back the Affordable Care Act would likely leave millions of currently insured Americans without health coverage in the coming decades, and strip benefits and protections from millions more, a growing number of independent studies suggest.

    Vice President Mike Pence listens as President Donald Trump talks to reporters about the Graham-Cassidy health care bill during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi at the Palace Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, in New York. [Evan Vucci | Associated Press]
  3. Mueller casts broad net in requesting extensive records from Trump White House

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — The special counsel investigating Russian election meddling has requested extensive records and email correspondence from the White House, covering the president's private discussions about firing his FBI director and his response to news that the then-national security adviser was under …

    In a photograph provided by the Russian foreign ministry, President Donald Trump meets with Sergei Lavrov, left, the Russian foreign minister, and Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, May 10, 2017. Special counsel Robert Mueller is interested in this meeting, where Trump said dismissing FBI Director James Comey had relieved "great pressure" on him, the New York Times reported on Sept. 20. [Russian Foreign Ministry via  New York Times]
  4. 'We will find our island destroyed': Hurricane Maria demolishes Puerto Rico

    News

    SAN JUAN — Sleepless Puerto Ricans awoke Wednesday knowing to expect a thrashing from the most ferocious storm to strike the island in at least 85 years. They met nightfall confronting the ruin Hurricane Maria left behind: engorged rivers, blown-out windows, sheared roofs, toppled trees and an obliterated electric …

    Rescue vehicles from the Emergency Management Agency stand trapped under an awning during the impact of Hurricane Maria, after the storm  hit the eastern region of the island, in Humacao, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Maria has lost its major hurricane status, after raking Puerto Rico. But forecasters say some strengthening is in the forecast and Maria could again become a major hurricane by Thursday. [Carlos Giusti | Associated Press]
  5. Obamacare repeal bill offers flexibility and uncertainty

    Politics

    The latest Republican proposal to undo the Affordable Care Act would grant states much greater flexibility and all but guarantee much greater uncertainty for tens of millions of people.