Florida Power and Light broke ground on three new solar power plants Thursday. The ceremony was held on the future site of the FPL Manatee Solar Energy Center. The other sites include FPL Citrus Solar Energy Center in DeSoto County and the FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center in Charlotte County. The three new, community-sized solar plants will be among the largest in the Eastern United States. FPL will install more than one million solar panels within these large-scale solar energy centers.
A mere 15 years ago FPL bought and burned more oil than any utility company in America to generate electricity, purchasing more than 41 million barrels of oil in 2001. The company said it’s now moving toward more cost-effective, renewable energy resources like solar power.
Eric Silagy, President and CEO of FPL, said small, rooftop solar panel installation for a home or business is still quite expensive. He said building community-scale solar plants will serve more customers and produce more energy at a lower cost.
“By building at a scale like this, where we’re serving large parts of the community, we’re able to get the price down so it is affordable, so we don’t have to raise the bills to pay for this like you would do if you were building at your house, where it might cost 30-40 thousand dollars to put a small system on your roof,” said Silagy.
Silagy said large-scale solar power plants can produce 2.5 times more energy than residential rooftop solar, and he said more jobs will be created during construction of the solar power plants.
The Manatee Solar Energy Center will be made of more than 338,000 solar panels on more than 700 acres of land. Desoto County’s Citrus Solar Energy Center is being built on more than 800 acres, and the Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center is under construction on 440 acres.
The three FPL solar energy centers are projected to produce clean, renewable energy by the end of the year.