FPL Plans to Build 1,500 MW of Solar in Next Two Years

Florida Power & Light (FPL) continues to add to its solar power portfolio, with the utility on March 13 announcing plans to build the largest community solar program in the U.S.

Eric Silagy, FPL’s president and CEO, in a statement said, “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 percent of the country. 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.”

The company’s FPL SolarTogether program, which needs approval from the state’s Public Service Commission, would allow customers to receive a credit on their bills from the utility’s cost savings from solar power. FPL plans to build 20 solar power plants, with total generation capacity of 1,490 MW, over the next two years. The utility said it expects the program will “generate an estimated $139 million in net savings for customers over the long term, primarily from avoided fuel and other system savings.”

FPL has been building new solar farms across its service territory, in addition to new gas-fired power plants, in part to replace retired coal-fired generation.

Customers participating in the program would receive a direct, monthly credit on their bills. FPL said the program also is designed to distribute part of the savings to all its customers.

The Solar Energy Industry of America reports a total of 1,387 MW of community solar has been installed nationwide through year-end 2018.

Silagy said, “This program will more than double the amount of community solar currently in the U.S. 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 said participants in the program will not have a long-term contract, and can end their participation at any time. Program participants also can maintain subscription benefits even if they move within the utility’s service area, as the subscription is tied to a customer’s account, and not a physical address.

“Include Miami-Dade County among the advocates and early endorsers of FPL’s SolarTogether program,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Giménez said in a statement. “A ‘Resilient 305’ [305 is a Miami area code] 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.”

Ann Scott, director of energy, engineering, and store planning for 7-Eleven, said, “Reducing our impact on the environment is a major focus for 7‑Eleven, and shifting to renewable energy is important to our progress. 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 first six solar plants, each with about 300,000 solar panels and generation capacity of 74.5 MW, are scheduled to be operational in early 2020. The remaining 14 facilities are expected to come online in 2021. FPL has secured the land for the solar farms, but has not announced the locations.

Darrell Proctor is a POWER associate editor (@DarrellProctor1, @POWERmagazine).