Florida Power & Light Co. on Friday announced the locations of four more solar plants, including one in Miami-Dade County, the first to be built in the tri-county area that also includes Palm Beach and Broward counties.
The Miami-Dade Solar Energy Center to be constructed on 465 acres of farmland off Krome Avenue between SW 122nd Street and Southeast 136th Street in Southwest Miami-Dade County is slated to produce electricity by mid-2019.
“Fortunately, despite South Florida’s generally higher land costs, we were able to secure this parcel for a good price a couple years ago, and now with solar costs declining, we’re going to be able to build on it cost-effectively,” FPL spokesman Mark Bubriski said.
The Miami-Dade parcel was agricultural land zoned for a residential development that was never built.
The other three proposed plants are the FPL Interstate Solar Energy Center, St. Lucie County; the FPL Pioneer Trail Solar Energy Center, Volusia County, and the FPL Sunshine Gateway Solar Energy Center, Columbia County.
The four plants will cost an average of $103 million. They will join FPL’s fleet of 14 solar plants, four of which came online Thursday, and other smaller solar installations currently in operation. Collectively, they provide approximately 930 megawatts.
“With the support of communities across the state, we are advancing smart, affordable clean energy infrastructure while keeping customer bills low,” said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. “These plants are another step forward in our ongoing strategy of making smart investments to better serve our customers now and in the future.”
Each of the new solar plants will have a capacity of 74.5 megawatts. Combined, they are expected to generate enough energy annually to power approximately 60,000 homes and, over their operational lifetime, produce net savings for FPL customers of $40 million. The net savings are due to several factors including system fuel savings.
Construction is expected to begin later this year. At the height of construction, each of the sites is expected to employ about 200 people, for a total of approximately 800 jobs.
“It’s very exciting to see FPL’s commitment to invest in solar energy with the addition of four new solar energy centers in Florida,” said Jacqui Sulek, chapter conservation manager for Audubon Florida. “Clean energy technology is a great way to meet energy demands while reducing emissions and saving water. We at Audubon look forward to continuing our partnering with FPL on stewardship opportunities that will add value for birds, pollinators and other wildlife.”
FPL plans to expand its “Solar Sanctuary” partnership with Audubon Florida to the new sites. The program is designed to enhance FPL’s solar power plant sites with unprecedented environmental stewardship, providing thousands of acres of habitat for native plants, birds and vital pollinators such as bumblebees and butterflies.
FPL’s solar energy centers are virtually silent, operate autonomously and without water. The panels sit low to the ground, and the layout of each site is unique to minimize impacts to wetlands and surrounding areas.
While Florida ranks ninth in solar resource — the strength of the sun’s rays, a report released this week by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy found it lags behind the region’s leading solar states, North Carolina and Georgia.
North Carolina leads the Southeast due to a favorable policy environment, SACE said. It ranks second in solar in the U.S. after California.
However, Florida produces more megawatts of solar power than South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, the SACE report states.