- NextEra subsidiary Florida Power & Light intends to accelerate the addition of new solar resources by adding eight different projects by 2018 for a total of 596 MW of renewable energy, essentially doubling the utility's previous commitment to install solar panels.
- The large-scale projects will include more than 2.5 million panels total, and according to the utility, will save Florida customers millions of dollars.
- Construction is slated to begin in the spring at sites across Florida, and three sites have already been selected: Alachua, Putnam and DeSoto counties. Other sites will be announced in the coming weeks, said FPL.
Despite the Sunshine State moniker, Florida Power & Light has been slow to bring solar energy onto its distribution center, which played a part in the demise of the NextEra-Hawaiian Electric Co. deal last year. But the utility is shifting gears and intends to develop about 600 MW in the next couple of years alongside projects it has recently completed.
In January, FPL laid out plans for four solar sites but has now doubled planned additions. New projects will fit alongside newly-completed solar installations: the FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center, Citrus Solar Energy Center and the Manatee Solar Energy Center.
Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL, said in a statement that the utility believes "in advancing solar affordably and responsibly for our customers and our state, and the coming years will be a game-changing time for solar in Florida."
The utility also hinted more developments may be on the way. "Additional large-scale solar facilities are also in development and may be announced in the coming months," FPL said. At the end of last year, FPL had about 335 MW of solar generating capacity, in addition to an array of smaller projects located on schools.
While the utility said the solar farms will net savings for customers, regulators approved FPL's request for $811 million increase over the next four years, which would raise bills to roughly $100 per month, according to the Sun Sentinel. The utility said the rate hike is necessary to complete grid upgrades and building and expanding 26 natural gas combustion turbines, a gas plant and solar farms.