Florida utility Florida Power & Light (FPL) has broken ground on three solar projects in the state which, once completed, will add 223.5 MW of solar PV capacity to the grid.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held at the site of where one of the new community-scale plants will be located FPL Manatee Solar Energy Center. The names of the other locations are FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center, and the FPL Citrus Solar Energy Center.
Each project is scheduled for completion before the end of the year, with the additional 223.5 MW of capacity set to triple FPLs solar footprint, which currently stands at 110 MW.
During construction of the three solar plants, around 250 jobs will be created in the local communities, and FPL was careful to identify suitable sites that had built-in advantages, such as strong community support for solar, and sufficient transmission and substation infrastructure.
Each project will utilize approximately 338,000 solar panels and cover a total area of 762 acres. The FPL Citrus Solar Energy Center is to be built in DeSoto County; the Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center will be located in Charlott County, and the Manatee Solar Energy Center will be located in Manatee County.
"This is a big step forward for our state and for the future of renewable energy in Florida, said executive director of Audubon Florida, Eric Draper. "FPLs three solar plants help reduce the use of fossil fuels, prevent the emission of thousands of tons of carbon each year and save millions of gallons of water."
Florida commissioner of agriculture Adam H. Putnam commended FPL for embracing solar energy and pushing the states renewable efforts forward, while FPL CEO Eric Silagy said: "We are extending our role in the renewable energy space by installing one million new solar panels. If you laid these panels end to end, they would nearly wrap around the entire state. Working with the communities we serve, we are building energy centers that are not only reliably, but also cost-effective, providing affordable, clean energy for our customers for generations to come."