October 24, 2014

Florida Trend's Floridian of the Year

Fla. Newsmakers of 2009

People who made an impact in business, economy, science, environment, government, education, sports, philanthropy, media and our fallen soldiers.

The Environment
» Florida Power & Light

Solar Energy Center
[Photo: FPL]

FPL opened its DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in October, the largest solar photovoltaic plant in the nation. Located on FPL-owned land in DeSoto County, the plant has more than 90,500 solar panels that generate some 42,000 megawatt-hours a year, or enough power for about 3,000 homes.

Eric Silagy
Eric Silagy is leading FPL's push to make Florida a manufacturing base for solar equipment.
[Photo: Matt Dean]
FPL in 2009 also began construction on its Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center, which will be the largest solar thermal plant outside of California, and announced plans for another major solar plant at Babcock Ranch in southwest Florida and a 10-megawatt solar plant on NASA property in Cape Canaveral.

Less well-known are the company's efforts to make the state a manufacturing base for solar equipment. Eric Silagy, FPL's vice president of development, says if Florida increased its commitment to large-scale solar, it could land some of the thousands of jobs and multimillion manufacturing plants opening their doors in states such as Pennsylvania, Arizona and Texas.

Chinese solar panel maker Suntech Power announced at year's end that it would set up its first U.S. factory in Phoenix. Silagy lobbied the company on Florida's behalf; he says the state simply didn't exhibit the support for solar that Arizona did. "This is a generational opportunity," Silagy says. "We have the opportunity to build a whole new economic base, but the window is now, and it's short." — Cynthia Barnett

Tags: Politics & Law, Dining & Travel, Agriculture, Banking & Finance, Business Services, Education, Energy & Utilities, Environment, Government/Politics & Law, Healthcare, Housing/Construction

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