September 2, 2014

Infrastructure Advantages in Florida

Energizing Prosperity

Florida meets present demands and future needs with a diversity of fuel sources.

Janet Ware | 9/24/2009

Population growth has slowed this year in Florida, but not for long. “Once the country recovers from the [current] economic slowdown,” says Vincent M. Dolan, president and CEO of Progress Energy Florida, “forecasts call for a 2-3% increase per year in customer growth.”

Robert Reedy,
“Heating water directly from the sun makes sense,” says Robert Reedy, director of the Florida Energy Center’s solar energy division.? [Photo: Nicholas Waters]

In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau predicts that by 2030, Florida will add another 12 million to its population, making it the nation’s 3rd most populous state.

To prepare for the influx, Progress Energy and the other utilities that serve Florida’s 67 counties are already investing in efficiency, reliability and enhanced energy production. And along with a host of energy innovators large and small, they’re also seeking cleaner ways to generate power.

Harvesting Sunshine

With more than $2 billion invested in solar power statewide to date, Florida is on track to become the nation’s 2nd largest producer of solar energy, right behind California.

Among those preparing for the new energy era is Palm Beach Gardens developer Syd Kitson, whose company, Kitson & Partners, has drawn up plans for a $2-billion “solar city” — the world’s first city to be powered solely by the sun — at Babcock Ranch, a 17,000-acre site situated north of Fort Myers that is surrounded by a 73,000-acre nature preserve.

The development will consist of 6 million square feet of retail, commercial, office, civic and light industrial space; all commercial buildings and homes will be certified as energy-efficient and constructed according to Florida Green Building Council standards. Solar arrays will feed power into the town’s integrated smart grid so that residents and businesses may monitor and control their energy consumption; kiosks for recharging electric cars also will be available.

Kitson is partnering with Juno Beach based-Florida Power & Light (FPL), the state’s largest investor-owned utility, to build the 75-megawatt solar generator that will provide the power.

“We have a blank sheet of paper,” says Kitson. “We want to create living laboratories for energy research, and we want to draw companies that want to be part of something that is really sustainable.”

Construction at Babcock Ranch is slated to begin in early 2010.

More Solar Power

In spring 2009, FPL began building a trio of solar energy plants in Florida:

» The DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in DeSoto County will provide 25 megawatts of photovoltaic solar capacity, making it the world’s largest photovoltaic solar facility.

» The Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center in Martin County will provide up to 75 megawatts of solar thermal capacity in a first-ever hybrid design connecting a solar facility to an existing fossil fuel plant.

» The Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center at Kennedy Space Center will provide 10 megawatts of photovoltaic solar capacity.

At a total cost of $688 million, the three plants combined will provide enough emissions-free electricity to power 35,000 homes and businesses.

Elsewhere in Florida:

» Tampa Electric Company, principal subsidiary of TECO Energy Inc., plans to build a 25-megawatt solar facility in Polk County.

» Progress Energy Florida plans to offer incentives to utility customers who place solar photovoltaic arrays on the rooftops of their homes and businesses.

» Pensacola-based Gulf Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company, offers an incentive plan to encourage customers to install solar thermal water heaters.

Tags: Energy & Utilities, Business Florida

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