Florida’s balanced approach meets today’s energy demands with an eye on tomorrow’s needs.
In June 2008, FP&L announced plans to build three solar energy plants in Florida:
- The DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in DeSoto County, which 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, which will provide up to 75 megawatts of solar thermal capacity in a hybrid design that uses the power of the sun to generate electricity from steam.
- The Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center at Kennedy Space Center, which will provide 10 megawatts of photovoltaic solar capacity.
At a total cost of $688 million, these three plants represent the first commercial-scale renewable energy to be installed in Florida. Combined, they will generate 110 megawatts of solar power — making Florida No. 2 in the nation for solar energy and providing enough emissions-free electricity to power 35,000 homes and businesses.
Wind is proving to be both an inexpensive and abundant source of power for many states; whether Florida is among them remains to be seen. Two energy providers — FP&L and Progress Energy Florida — are conducting studies to determine the viability of harnessing Florida’s ocean breezes to generate electricity.
- Talks are under way between Tallahassee city officials and Biomass Gas & Electric LLC to establish a plant for converting wood chips into electric power on 22 acres at Florida State University’s Innovation Park.
- Brevard County has partnered with Michigan-based Landfill Energy Systems to construct an $11-million, 6,000-square-foot waste-to-energy plant which converts the methane gas generated by deteriorating garbage into electricity.
- In Manatee County, FP&L expects to generate enough electrical energy from landfill gases to serve 1,800 homes by January 2009.
- Atlanta-based Geoplasma continues to pursue its plans to build a $500-million plasma-arc gasification plant at St. Lucie County’s landfill to convert garbage into electricity.
Florida enjoys geographical advantages, suggests Marshal Criser III, president of AT&T Florida. “This is a gateway state with gateway connectivity to Latin America, Europe and the world. Our company has those connections, and we want to be part of that gateway.”
Size matters, too. “Florida is our largest market among the 18 states we serve,” says Tommy L. Mathews, spokesperson for Embarq, “and our ongoing investments in existing and new technology reflect that importance.”
Market niches also command attention. For example, at Verizon, the focus is on the Tampa Bay region, says Michelle Robinson, the company’s Southeast Region president, where emerging health and education communities, along with MacDill Air Force Base, are creating an environment that’s “ripe for investment.”
Says Robinson, “We’re here for the long run.”