Florida Power and Light Co. (FPL) announced plans to add 2.1 gigawatts—from roughly 9 million solar panels—of utility-scale solar projects by 2023, adding to 686 megawatts it has already installed across its service area. Eight solar facilities totaling 600 megawatts are expected to be online by 2018 and are projected to provide customers a net lifetime savings of $39 million. Thereafter, the utility will continue to add an average of 300 megawatts annually for the next 7 years.
"We continue to advance affordable clean energy strategically–making substantial improvements year after year while keeping overall electric rates lower than they were 10 years ago," said Eric Silagy, FPL president and CEO. "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 for our customers and our state. Our strategy of making smart, long-term investments in clean energy infrastructure is working, and we're looking forward to keeping the momentum going with the major advancements announced today–which, combined, are expected to save customers more than half a billion dollars."
In FPL’s recent utilities commission filing, the utility said it will quadruple its solar capacity while reducing coal and oil plants over the next 10 years. At the end of 2016 less than 1 percent of FPL’s electric came from solar. With the new plans, the utility predicts that by 2023, 4 percent of its electric generation will come from solar. The solar expansion would provide enough to power 420,000 homes with clean solar power, with power coming on gradually and steadily. As such it provides a better pathway to energy growth as it’s needed than commissioning new nuclear or gas-fired power plants.
FPL said it intends to continue retiring outdated coal-fired power plants. “FPL’s modernization of its Dania Beach facility, which would produce more energy, significantly cut air emissions and reduce the company's overall use of natural gas, is a winner for South Florida. Coupled with the company's commitment to further expand solar power, FPL is helping to establish Florida as a national clean energy leader," said Doug Young, Audubon Florida board member and South Florida Audubon Society chief operating officer.
FPL is betting on large-scale solar projects to control costs for its customers after Amendment 1, heavily favored by utilities, was voted down during last year’s voting cycle. The amendment would have made it harder for homeowners and businesses to go solar by removing the benefits of net-metering. The state’s utilities have contended that net-metering forces them charge non-solar customers for those that have solar power.Tweet