JUNO BEACH, Fla., Sept. 16, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) is making excellent progress on plans for three new large-scale solar energy centers, the company reported as part of the Florida Public Service Commission's (PSC) annual Ten-Year Site Plan workshop.
Projected for completion by the end of 2016, the three new plants will triple FPL's current solar capacity cost-effectively – with no net cost to customers over the plants' operating lifetimes.
"FPL has been working to advance solar affordably in Florida for more than a decade," Pamela Rauch, FPL's vice president of development and external affairs, told the PSC. "Large-scale solar is by far the most economical way to advance solar energy for the benefit of all of our customers."
The three new plants and the counties in which they are being built are: the FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center, Charlotte County, Fla.; the FPL Citrus Solar Energy Center, DeSoto County, Fla.; and the FPL Manatee Solar Energy Center, Manatee County, Fla.
Currently, solar power is generally not yet cost-effective in FPL's service area, due in part to its higher costs relative to the company's highly efficient system and low electric rates. FPL, which has been working for several years to find ways to advance solar cost-effectively, identified three suitable existing sites with unique built-in advantages, such as the existence of sufficient transmission and substation infrastructure. These advantages, combined with support from the local communities, are helping reduce the overall cost of construction and enable the company to advance solar cost-effectively.
In addition, FPL announced the selection of industry-leading engineering, procurement and construction firm, Black & Veatch, to design and build the three plants at a competitive cost. Engineering work is well underway, and FPL expects to officially break ground later this year. Actual construction activity is expected to take approximately one year to complete.
Each of the three new plants is being designed for roughly 74 megawatts of capacity. These plants, along with several community-based, small-scale solar arrays and commercial-scale solar research installations that FPL is building, will combine for a total of more than 225 megawatts of new solar capacity by the end of next year. This will effectively triple FPL's solar capacity, which currently totals approximately 110 megawatts.
FPL's current solar portfolio includes the 25-megawatt FPL DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center; the 10-megawatt FPL Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center near NASA's Kennedy Space Center; and 75 megawatts at the FPL Martin Clean Energy Center, the world's first hybrid solar/natural gas plant.
Economic Advantages of New Solar Plants
FPL is leveraging multiple advantages and expertise gained from building its first three large-scale solar power plants to drive down costs, enabling cost-effective large-scale solar to become a reality for the first time in the Sunshine State. The potential is strong: According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) data, more than 98 percent of Florida's solar potential is in large-scale solar, compared with less than 2 percent for rooftop installations.
FPL estimates that large-scale solar in Florida produces about 2.5 times more solar energy per dollar invested than small-scale systems. In addition to capitalizing on economies-of-scale, FPL has selected sites with prior permitting and/or site development that offer close proximity to existing transmission infrastructure.
Based on the projects' location in Southwest Florida, where the state's solar resource is strongest, FPL expects to see as much as 5 percent greater energy production from the plants' panels compared with projected generation in other areas of the state. Solar resource, or the intensity of the sun's rays to reach an area, affects the ability of photovoltaic panels to generate electricity. Overall, Florida ranks ninth in the country for solar resource, according to NREL, and Southwest Florida has the strongest solar resource within the state.
FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center
Planned in partnership with the Babcock Ranch development, the FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center will be located in Charlotte County, Fla. In 2011, FPL completed initial permitting for the site, which was donated by the Babcock Ranch development, helping keep costs down for FPL customers. County tax incentives and a portion of franchise fees committed by the Babcock Ranch Independent Special District further reduce the cost of the project.
"This represents a tremendous opportunity for us to put Charlotte County and Babcock Ranch on the map as clean-energy leaders," said Tom Patton, Charlotte County's economic development director. "Our community is very proud of our relationship with Florida Power & Light, and its efforts to advance renewable energy throughout the state."
FPL Citrus Solar Energy Center
The FPL Citrus Solar Energy Center will be located in DeSoto County, Fla., near Florida's first large-scale solar plant, the 25-megawatt FPL DeSoto Solar Energy Center, which opened in October 2009. FPL already owns the 841 acres of land on which the plant will be built, and only minor permitting modifications are required. Other advantages of the location that are helping to keep the costs down for FPL customers include the ability to connect to existing transmission infrastructure and county tax incentives.
"Thanks to our partnership with FPL, DeSoto County has a proud history of solar generation, and this project further cements our commitment to renewable energy," said DeSoto County Commissioner Gabriel Quave. "We are thrilled that FPL has again chosen DeSoto County to expand its solar energy."
FPL Manatee Solar Energy Center
The FPL Manatee Solar Energy Center is being built on a 762-acre site that FPL owns next to the company's natural gas-powered Manatee Power Plant in Manatee County, Fla. Other cost advantages include tax incentives provided by the county and the ability for the new plant to connect with an existing substation.
FPL's solar investments are part of the company's long-term, affordable clean energy strategy. Since 2001, the company's investments in fuel efficiency have saved customers more than $8 billion and prevented more than 95 million tons of carbon emissions. Today, FPL produces cleaner, more reliable power for typical customers that is more than 10 percent lower than it was 10 years ago. FPL recently announced that it expects to reduce rates for customers again in 2016.
Florida Power & Light Company
Florida Power & Light Company is the third-largest electric utility in the United States, serving approximately 4.8 million customer accounts across nearly half of the state of Florida. FPL's typical 1,000-kWh residential customer bill is approximately 30 percent lower than the latest national average and, in 2014, was the lowest in Florida among reporting utilities for the fifth year in a row. FPL's service reliability is better than 99.98 percent, and its highly fuel-efficient power plant fleet is one of the cleanest among all utilities nationwide. The company was recognized in 2015 as one of the most trusted U.S. electric utilities by Market Strategies International. A leading Florida employer with approximately 8,700 employees, FPL is a subsidiary of Juno Beach, Fla.-based NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NEE), a clean energy company widely recognized for its efforts in sustainability, ethics and diversity, including being ranked in the top 10 worldwide for innovativeness and community responsibility as part of Fortune's 2015 list of "World's Most Admired Companies." NextEra Energy is also the parent company of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, which, together with its affiliated entities, is the world's largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and sun. For more information, visit these websites: www.NextEraEnergy.com, www.FPL.com, www.NextEraEnergyResources.com.
Cautionary Statements and Risk Factors That May Affect Future Results
This news release contains "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements are not statements of historical facts, but instead represent the current expectations of NextEra Energy, Inc. (NextEra Energy) and Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) regarding future operating results and other future events, many of which, by their nature, are inherently uncertain and outside of NextEra Energy's and FPL's control. Forward-looking statements in this news release include, among others, statements concerning future operating performance. In some cases, you can identify the forward-looking statements by words or phrases such as "will," "may result," "expect," "anticipate," "believe," "intend," "plan," "seek," "aim," "potential," "projection," "forecast," "predict," "goals," "target," "outlook," "should," "would" or similar words or expressions. You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which are not a guarantee of future performance. The future results of NextEra Energy and FPL and their business and financial condition are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause their actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements, or may require them to limit or eliminate certain operations. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, the following: effects of extensive regulation of NextEra Energy's and FPL's business operations; inability of NextEra Energy and FPL to recover in a timely manner any significant amount of costs, a return on certain assets or a reasonable return on invested capital through base rates, cost recovery clauses, other regulatory mechanisms or otherwise; impact of political, regulatory and economic factors on regulatory decisions important to NextEra Energy and FPL; disallowance of cost recovery by FPL based on a finding of imprudent use of derivative instruments; effect of any reductions to or elimination of governmental incentives that support utility scale renewable energy projects of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC and its affiliated entities (NextEra Energy Resources) or the imposition of additional taxes or assessments on renewable energy; impact of new or revised laws, regulations or interpretations or other regulatory initiatives on NextEra Energy and FPL; effect on NextEra Energy and FPL of potential regulatory action to broaden the scope of regulation of over-the-counter (OTC) financial derivatives and to apply such regulation to NextEra Energy and FPL; capital expenditures, increased operating costs and various liabilities attributable to environmental laws, regulations and other standards applicable to NextEra Energy and FPL; effects on NextEra Energy and FPL of federal or state laws or regulations mandating new or additional limits on the production of greenhouse gas emissions; exposure of NextEra Energy and FPL to significant and increasing compliance costs and substantial monetary penalties and other sanctions as a result of extensive federal regulation of their operations; effect on NextEra Energy and FPL of changes in tax laws and in judgments and estimates used to determine tax-related asset and liability amounts; impact on NextEra Energy and FPL of adverse results of litigation; effect on NextEra Energy and FPL of failure to proceed with projects under development or inability to complete the construction of (or capital improvements to) electric generation, transmission and distribution facilities, gas infrastructure facilities or other facilities on schedule or within budget; impact on development and operating activities of NextEra Energy and FPL resulting from risks related to project siting, financing, construction, permitting, governmental approvals and the negotiation of project development agreements; risks involved in the operation and maintenance of electric generation, transmission and distribution facilities, gas infrastructure facilities and other facilities; effect on NextEra Energy and FPL of a lack of growth or slower growth in the number of customers or in customer usage; impact on NextEra Energy and FPL of severe weather and other weather conditions; threats of terrorism and catastrophic events that could result from terrorism, cyber attacks or other attempts to disrupt NextEra Energy's and FPL's business or the businesses of third parties; inability to obtain adequate insurance coverage for protection of NextEra Energy and FPL against significant losses and risk that insurance coverage does not provide protection against all significant losses; a prolonged period of low gas and oil prices could impact NextEra Energy Resources' gas infrastructure business and cause NextEra Energy Resources to delay or cancel certain gas infrastructure projects and for certain existing projects to be impaired; risk to NextEra Energy Resources of increased operating costs resulting from unfavorable supply costs necessary to provide NextEra Energy Resources' full energy and capacity requirement services; inability or failure by NextEra Energy Resources to manage properly or hedge effectively the commodity risk within its portfolio; potential volatility of NextEra Energy's results of operations caused by sales of power on the spot market or on a short-term contractual basis; effect of reductions in the liquidity of energy markets on NextEra Energy's ability to manage operational risks; effectiveness of NextEra Energy's and FPL's risk management tools associated with their hedging and trading procedures to protect against significant losses, including the effect of unforeseen price variances from historical behavior; impact of unavailability or disruption of power transmission or commodity transportation facilities on sale and delivery of power or natural gas by FPL and NextEra Energy Resources; exposure of NextEra Energy and FPL to credit and performance risk from customers, hedging counterparties and vendors; failure of NextEra Energy or FPL counterparties to perform under derivative contracts or of requirement for NextEra Energy or FPL to post margin cash collateral under derivative contracts; failure or breach of NextEra Energy's or FPL's information technology systems; risks to NextEra Energy and FPL's retail businesses from compromise of sensitive customer data; losses from volatility in the market values of derivative instruments and limited liquidity in OTC markets; impact of negative publicity; inability of NextEra Energy and FPL to maintain, negotiate or renegotiate acceptable franchise agreements with municipalities and counties in Florida; increasing costs of health care plans; lack of a qualified workforce or the loss or retirement of key employees; occurrence of work strikes or stoppages and increasing personnel costs; NextEra Energy's ability to successfully identify, complete and integrate acquisitions, including the effect of increased competition for acquisitions; NextEra Energy Partners, LP's (NEP's) acquisition of NET Holdings Management, LLC (NET Midstream) and other future acquisitions by NEP may not be completed and, even if completed, NextEra Energy may not realize the anticipated benefits of such acquisitions; environmental, health and financial risks associated with NextEra Energy's and FPL's ownership and operation of nuclear generation facilities; liability of NextEra Energy and FPL for significant retrospective assessments and/or retrospective insurance premiums in the event of an incident at certain nuclear generation facilities; increased operating and capital expenditures at nuclear generation facilities of NextEra Energy or FPL resulting from orders or new regulations of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; inability to operate any of NextEra Energy Resources' or FPL's owned nuclear generation units through the end of their respective operating licenses; liability of NextEra Energy and FPL for increased nuclear licensing or compliance costs resulting from hazards, and increased public attention to hazards, posed to their owned nuclear generation facilities; risks associated with outages of NextEra Energy's and FPL's owned nuclear units; effect of disruptions, uncertainty or volatility in the credit and capital markets on NextEra Energy's and FPL's ability to fund their liquidity and capital needs and meet their growth objectives; inability of NextEra Energy, FPL and NextEra Energy Capital Holdings, Inc. to maintain their current credit ratings; impairment of NextEra Energy's and FPL's liquidity from inability of creditors to fund their credit commitments or to maintain their current credit ratings; poor market performance and other economic factors that could affect NextEra Energy's defined benefit pension plan's funded status; poor market performance and other risks to the asset values of NextEra Energy's and FPL's nuclear decommissioning funds; changes in market value and other risks to certain of NextEra Energy's investments; effect of inability of NextEra Energy subsidiaries to pay upstream dividends or repay funds to NextEra Energy or of NextEra Energy's performance under guarantees of subsidiary obligations on NextEra Energy's ability to meet its financial obligations and to pay dividends on its common stock; and effect of disruptions, uncertainty or volatility in the credit and capital markets of the market price of NextEra Energy's common stock. NextEra Energy and FPL discuss these and other risks and uncertainties in their annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2014 and other SEC filings, and this news release should be read in conjunction with such SEC filings made through the date of this news release. The forward-looking statements made in this news release are made only as of the date of this news release and NextEra Energy and FPL undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statements.
SOURCE Florida Power & Light Company