Florida Power & Light Co. announced a major solar plan Wednesday, vowing to install more than 30 million solar panels in Florida by 2030.
The goal is to make Florida a “world leader in the production of solar energy,” the Juno Beach-based electric utility says.
FPL said it has secured solar sites across the state to build solar energy centers, and some will be in South Florida. They include two 74.5-megawatt solar energy centers in Palm Beach County, each with about 310,000 solar panels, according to FPL spokesman Chris McGrath.
The program would increase solar energy to about 20 percent of FPL’s energy mix by 2030. It’s about 1 percent now, according to the utility, which uses mostly natural gas and nuclear energy.
If FPL meets its solar installation goal, it would result in a 67 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions rate by 2030, according to FPL.
One piece of the FPL’s solar expansion plan is its “Solar Together” program to sell solar subscriptions to business, government and residential customers.
FPL has been pitching the program to big power users such as Broward County government, and said it will formally propose the program to regulators in March. Participating consumers could reduce their bills by sharing in the cost for additional solar energy centers and fields, the utility says.
The utility currently operates 14 major solar power plants and more than 200 smaller solar installations, totaling more than 935 megawatts of universal solar capacity currently powering customers.
Eight solar plants, in Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie and Hendry counties, were placed into operation last year, according to an FPL news release. In July 2018, FPL began construction on four additional solar power plants, including the FPL Miami-Dade Solar Energy Center in South Florida. The other solar plants being built are in St. Lucie, Volusia and Columbia counties.
Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy in Knoxville, Tenn., said FPL’s commitment to 30 million solar panels “does not clearly indicate the amount of power that will be delivered to Florida customers.”
“While this is a positive jump in solar development, it’s important to note this will not make FPL a leader in solar watts per customer based on their size in the Southeast or the country,” Smith said.
North Carolina leads the Southeast in solar capacity, followed by Georgia, and South Carolina, according to a 2017 report by the Southern Alliance. But Florida is catching up, with utilities announcing “significant” plans to add solar in coming years, according to the report.
“The Invading Sea” is a collaboration of four South Florida media organizations — the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Miami Herald, Palm Beach Post and WLRN Public Media.