President Obama Joins FPL for Commissioning of Nation’s Largest Solar PV Power Plant; Announces $200 Million in Smart Grid Funding for FPL’s ‘Energy Smart Florida’
Arcadia, October 28, 2009 - President Barack Obama joined FPL Group (NYSE:FPL) and Florida Power & Light Company officials on October 27 for the commissioning of the largest photovoltaic solar facility in the nation. At FPL’s DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center, the President announced that FPL was awarded $200 million in Recovery Act funds to invest in a stronger, smarter, cleaner and more efficient electrical grid, as part of his Administration’s $3.4 billion commitment to spurring the transition to the Smart Grid.
The new 25-megawatt solar array and FPL’s Energy Smart Florida project position the state of Florida as a leader in developing a clean-energy economy for the 21st century, delivering significant economic and environmental benefits to the area.
“For the very first time, a large-scale solar power plant - the largest of its kind in the entire nation - will deliver electricity produced by the sun to the citizens of the Sunshine State. And I think it's about time,” said President Obama. “At this moment, there is something big happening in America when it comes to creating a clean energy economy. But getting there will take a few more days like this one and more projects like this one.”
“Today we’re taking the first step into the new clean energy economy of the 21st century. It’s high-tech, it’s low-emissions, and it empowers consumers to control their energy usage. The President’s Recovery Act made the largest investment in renewable energy and the smart grid in our nation’s history. And in Florida, the governor, the state legislature and the Public Service Commission all demonstrated a strong commitment to making the state a solar energy leader. Our Florida solar projects are creating good construction jobs when they’re needed most, and in the years ahead they’ll create clean energy when it’s needed most. We’re ready to build more solar in Florida, and with the right public policy support, we will,” said FPL Group Chairman and CEO Lew Hay.
The DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center, which uses more than 90,000 PV panels that turn the sun’s rays into electricity to power more than 3,000 homes, is generating significant economic and environmental benefits. At a time when Florida is suffering from the worst economy in a generation, the solar project created 400 well-paying construction jobs. In addition, the DeSoto solar array will avoid 575,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition to the DeSoto plant, FPL is building a 75-megawatt solar thermal facility in Martin County and a 10-megawatt solar PV facility on the Space Coast. FPL’s three solar projects combined are creating more than 1,500 direct jobs and more than 5,000 total jobs for the state of Florida. In addition, they will save 1 million barrels of oil and avoid 3.5 million tons of greenhouse gases.
Energy Smart Florida, which includes a $378 million investment from FPL in addition to the $200 million in federal funding, is expected to create more than 6,000 jobs. The project will install revolutionary new technologies that will help FPL build a more intelligent network that is able to detect potential problems and automatically reconfigure the grid to minimize outages. In addition, smart meters will give customers the ability to see their usage online by the hour, day and month, enabling them to better understand their energy consumption and paving the way for them to make energy efficient, cost-saving choices.
As the nation’s largest producer of solar and wind energy, FPL Group is committed to helping President Obama achieve his goal of doubling the nation’s supply of renewable energy in the next three years. This year alone, the company will invest $2.5 billion in new renewable energy projects and will add approximately 1,200 megawatts of new renewable energy capacity.
Consistent with that commitment, FPL Group subsidiary NextEra Energy Resources has combined the clean power of its renewable energy portfolio with an innovative brand — called EarthEra — to offer everyday ways to fight climate change by building a clean-energy future. Through the use of EarthEra carbon offsets generated from NextEra’s Horse Hollow Wind Project in Texas, the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center commissioning event on October 27 will be carbon-neutral.
FPL’s DeSoto solar project is part of a larger effort by the company to create a clean-energy economy for the 21st century. The energy economy of the future will include a dramatic expansion of renewable energy, a nationwide fleet of plug-in electric vehicles and a smart electrical grid to tie it all together. FPL commissioned the largest solar PV power plant in the nation. The company recently announced that it will convert its entire fleet of vehicles into plug-ins over the next decade. FPL’s Energy Smart Florida plan will accelerate the deployment of “smart” meters to 4.5 million customers and incorporate greater intelligence into the transmission and distribution system serving millions of Floridians.
“At FPL, we’re investing every day to make our infrastructure stronger, smarter, cleaner and more efficient. The DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center is a big part of this plan, and Energy Smart Florida is the next big step,” said Florida Power & Light Company President and CEO Armando J. Olivera.
The DeSoto plant was constructed ahead of schedule in less than a year and $22 million under budget. With support from President Obama’s Recovery Act funding, the $150 million total cost of constructing the facility will represent an average of only 6 cents on a typical customer’s monthly bill over the lifetime of the plant.
The plant will generate more than $2 million in additional property tax revenue for DeSoto County through the end of 2010 and $37 million over the life of the project. The influx of workers into the DeSoto County area also helped local businesses during difficult economic times.
The panels used at the DeSoto plant are produced by SunPower Corp. and are the most efficient solar panels on the world market. The plant also uses SunPower’s proprietary tracking system to tilt the panels toward the sun as it moves across the sky, significantly increasing sunlight capture by up to 25 percent over fixed-tilt systems.
“With the completion of the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center, SunPower’s high-efficiency photovoltaic technology is demonstrating that solar is competitively priced for electric utility power plant applications. SunPower’s sun tracking technology is fast to install, and reliably delivers clean power during peak demand periods,” said Howard Wenger, president, global business units for SunPower. “We congratulate FPL for its global leadership in the development of solar technologies, and for making solar energy a key part of the nation’s economic recovery and the protection of the environment for future generations.”
FPL is currently working with local officials to secure the necessary approvals to expand the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center even further, with a potential future capacity of up to 300 megawatts. FPL also has several other shovel-ready solar projects that it is positioned to move forward on with legislative and regulatory support. The company’s ultimate goal is to position Florida as a leader in clean-energy generation and as a hub for the development of cutting-edge technology that will rival job corridors in other states.
For more information about FPL’s Next Generation Solar Energy Centers, visit www.FPL.com/solar.
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Florida Power & Light Company