Today (April 2) Florida Light & Power (FPL) announced a plan to offer customers a chance to join in a pilot community solar program. Under the pilot FPL could install up to 2.4 megawatts of solar power if the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) approves the pilot program, allowing hundreds—maybe more than a thousand people in the to enjoy the benefits of solar—even if they can’t put it on their homes or businesses.
“For customers who care deeply about advancing clean energy—including those who may not have the ability or desire to install their own solar systems—we are proposing to create a voluntary, community-based partnership that is designed to help grow solar in Florida without costing a penny for those who choose not to participate,” explained Eric Silagy, president of FPL.Under the proposal FPL customers could contribute to the committee select project for $9 a month. Their contributions to support the construction of up to 25 commercial-scale community solar arrays. The utility stressed that program, if approved, would not increase electric bills for those customers that choose not to participate in the program.
“We know that some of our customers have an affinity for solar power, but we also know that for a variety of reasons, many are not able to install it themselves. This pilot program will allow us, along with the PSC, to truly gauge customer interest in supporting solar power,” Silagy said. “Ultimately, any program we offer must be designed to benefit all of our customers, and this voluntary, community-based solar program is designed with that goal in mind.”
If the PSC agrees to the pilot as well as an energy efficiency program FPL has introduced, the utility said it could reduce customer costs by a total of $80 million annually. It also points out that consumers have helped subsidize $16.5 million to support roughly 900 solar rooftop arrays between 2011 and 2013. FPL calls rooftop solar, “The least economical form of solar photovoltaic (PV) power.” As such the company appears to be attempting to reduce its residential incentives programs.
If the pilot community solar program is approved it could start accepting customer contributions in 2015 and start installing two to five solar arrays in the beginning of the year. Among the first sites selected to host the arrays are sites in Fort Lauderdale, Sarasota and West Palm Beach.
One thing not explained thus far in FPL's announcement of a pilot program is whether or not those consumers who participate in the pilot will be compensated for the energy that their portions of the community solar arrays produce. In most other situations those who buy into a community solar project, like those developed by Clean Energy Collective, are compensated for the power that their portion of a larger array produces.Tweet