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Okeechobee One of Four Sites Selected for FPL Solar Energy Center

03/05/2019

JUNO BEACH, Fla., March 4, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) today announced plans to build four new solar power plants this year that are expected to begin powering customers in early 2020:

FPL Okeechobee Solar Energy Center, Okeechobee County
FPL Hibiscus Solar Energy Center, Palm Beach County
FPL Echo River Solar Energy Center, Suwannee County
FPL Southfork Solar Energy Center, Manatee County 

"The construction of four additional solar energy centers is just the latest demonstration of our laser focus on advancing solar energy for all of our customers, while keeping their bills lower than 90 percent of the country," said Eric Silagy, FPL president and CEO. "These solar plants are part of our commitment to installing 30 million more solar panels by 2030 across more than 100 new solar sites, resulting in the creation of thousands of jobs here in our state."

New statistics demonstrate the positive impact Florida's solar expansion continues to have on job creation in the state. Florida ranked second in the nation in 2018 in solar employment, behind California, according to a recent report by The Solar Foundation. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity projects solar jobs to grow by more than 60 percent through 2026, compared to statewide job growth of about 10 percent. At peak construction, each FPL solar plant employs about 200 workers. FPL estimates that about 3,000 jobs have been created since 2016 when the company embarked on one of the largest solar expansions in the country.

Each of the new FPL solar plants will be capable of generating 74.5 megawatts of power from the sun, for a combined addition of nearly 300 megawatts of new solar capacity – enough to power about 60,000 homes. Built cost-effectively, the new solar plants will bring an additional $26 million in net-savings to FPL customers over the long-term. 

FPL Okeechobee Solar Energy Center, Okeechobee County
The new solar plant will expand FPL's clean energy footprint in Okeechobee County, which will also soon be home to the FPL Okeechobee Clean Energy Center. The natural gas power plant is projected to be the cleanest most fuel-efficient power plant of its kind when it begins serving customers next month.

"FPL's investments in clean power generation continue to be a game-changer for our county," said Jeff Sumner, president, Sumner Engineering & Consulting and chairman of the Economic Council of Okeechobee County. "Investments like these provide a vital injection of economic activity to our area and help support our local community for years to come."

FPL Hibiscus Solar Energy Center, Palm Beach County
The new solar plant will be FPL's largest installation to date in Palm Beach County, where FPL and its parent company, NextEra Energy, are headquartered.

"We're fortunate to have a world leader in renewable energy located right here in Palm Beach County," said Kelly Smallridge, president and CEO, Business Development Board of Palm Beach County.  "FPL's ability to deliver some of the cleanest and most affordable power in the country is a major competitive advantage that helps us attract businesses to our area."
 

FPL Echo River Solar Energy Center, Suwannee County
Visible to thousands of drivers traveling Interstate 10 every day, the new FPL solar plant will be the largest solar installation in Suwannee County to date.

"FPL's solar investment is an ideal fit for our community as it supports the growth of clean tech and ecotourism - two industry sectors that provide for a diversified and sustainable regional economy," said Jimmy Norris, director, Suwannee County Economic Development. "And its location will help us advertise that Suwannee County is playing a role in Florida's transition from the Sunshine State to the Solar State."

FPL Southfork Solar Energy Center, Manatee County
FPL's second solar plant in Manatee County will join the FPL Manatee Solar Energy Center, which was built in 2016 and started the company's unprecedented solar expansion.

"It's exciting to continue to be a part of what FPL's solar expansion is doing for our state," said Manatee County Commissioner Priscilla Whisenant Trace. "We know firsthand the benefits a solar plant brings to our community and look forward to the additional economic and environmental benefits, including more green energy and jobs, another solar facility will bring to Manatee County."

Innovative Environmental Partnerships
FPL continues to expand its solar stewardship program with environmental organizations, such as Audubon Florida, to enhance the environments encompassing the solar plants. The stewardship programs include planting additional pollinator habitats and preserving environmentally sensitive areas.

"Our partnership with FPL has resulted in solar sites that incorporate environmentally responsible features, such as native plants that benefit Florida's birds, wildlife and pollinator species into the design of the solar plant," said Julie Wraithmell, executive director of Audubon Florida.


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