FPL to add 225MW of PV capacity by end of 2016

Florida Power & Light expects to break ground later this year on three utility-scale PV plants in the state totaling 222MW of nameplate capacity that will reach commercial operation before the end of 2016.

The new facilities will triple FPL’s existing 110MW solar capacity in Florida on a cost-effective basis, according to the company. This means no net cost to customers over the plant’s operating lifetimes.

Several community-based, small-scale solar arrays and commercial-scale solar research installations that FPL is building will add another 3MW of generation capacity.

The three plants and the counties in which they are being built are the FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center, Charlotte County; the FPL Citrus Solar Energy Center, DeSoto County; and FPL Manatee Solar Energy Center, Manatee County.

The utility announced that it contracted with Black & Veatch, an engineering, procurement and construction firm, to design and build the three plants at a competitive cost. Engineering work is well underway.

FPL notes that solar power is generally not yet cost-effective in its service area, due in part to the higher costs relative to the company's highly efficient system and low electric rates. It has been working for several years to find ways to advance solar cost-effectively.

The sites identified for the plants have unique built-in advantages, such as the existence of sufficient transmission and substation infrastructure. These advantages, combined with support from the local communities, are helping reduce the overall cost of construction and enable the company to advance solar cost-effectively, it contends.

FPL is the third-largest electric utility in the US, serving 4.7 million customer accounts across nearly half of Florida. It is a subsidiary of NextEra Energy based in Juno Beach, Florida.

"Large-scale solar is by far the most economical way to advance solar energy for the benefit of all of our customers," Pamela Rauch, FPL's vice president of development and external affairs, told the Public Service Commission.