FPL announces 1,500 MW of new solar capacity

Dive Brief:

  • Florida Power & Light is making up for lost time, and now expects to have 2.1 GW of new solar capacity installed on its system within the next seven years. In addition to the utility's renewables announcement, FPL said it has also reached a deal to close down a coal-fired plant in the state.
  • FPL, which currently operates 335 MW of solar energy, yesterday announced 1,500 MW of new solar development in addition to 600 MW already under development at eight sites.
  • Additionally, FPL said it had reached an agreement with JEA to close down the 1,250 MW St. Johns River Power Park, a coal-fired power plant in Jacksonville, Fla., the two utilities own together.

Dive Insight:

FPL has been somewhat of a laggard in solar development, despite the state's nickname, but its latest generation and energy mix forecast filed with the Florida Public Service Commission indicates the utility is looking to change that.

The report includes plant modernizations, closing down an older coal facility, and plans for renewables that will bring its total solar capacity to almost 2.5 GW when the new generation is complete.

In total, FPL is now operating more than 300 MW of solar capacity and expects to add almost 2,100 MW in the next seven years. 

The utility also said it would modernize the site of its first power plant in Dania Beach, Fla., by replacing an existing older power plant with modern, fuel-efficient natural gas technology. Along with the coal plant closure, FPL said that its solar generation will outpace oil and coal combined in less than three years.

FPL president and CEO Eric Silagy said in a statement that the company continues to add clean energy "strategically."

"We're currently building some of the lowest-cost solar ever seen in America, and our investments in more efficient natural gas technology are delivering enormous savings and environmental benefits," he said. Along with the newest announcements, the installations "are expected to save customers more than half a billion dollars."

FPL's energy mix last year included about 20% nuclear, 70% natural gas, 5% from oil and coal combined, and 1% solar.

Last month, FPL announced it was developing eight different projects by 2018 for a total of 596 MW of renewable energy. FPL is working to develop plans and evaluate potential locations for the 1,500 MW anticipated for 2019 through 2023. The utility said no projects have been finalized yet, but believes property it owns in western Miami-Dade County could "make a promising location for a universal solar facility."

FPL said it has plans to further modernize its system by retiring its Lauderdale Plant in Dania Beach, Fla., the site of FPL's first plant in the 1920s. In its place, the utility wants to construct the FPL Dania Beach Clean Energy Center, a 1,200-MW gas-fired plant which could be online in 2022.

According to the utility, the new gas plant would reduce primary air emissions by 70% and generate economic benefits for Broward County, while also reducing FPL's system-wide natural gas consumption.

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Filed Under: Solar & Renewables
Top image credit: Mortenson Construction