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Florida Power & Light Company captures photos of Florida panther at Hendry County solar energy center

Several panther photos taken throughout the FPL Sawgrass Solar Energy Center this summer

Majority of FPL solar energy centers going forward will feature wildlife-friendly fencing, which allows wildlife to traverse the sites

FPL solar energy centers co-exist with the environment, and numerous species of animals have been spotted

Aug 30, 2022

JUNO BEACH, Fla. – Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) today released several photos of the Florida panther within the FPL Sawgrass Solar Energy Center in Hendry County. These visuals of the Florida panther at one of the company’s 50 solar energy centers further demonstrates how the company’s sites co-exist with the native environment.

“When we build energy infrastructure to provide power to our customers, environmental stewardship is always a consideration from the very beginning,” said Kate MacGregor, FPL vice president of environmental services. “These images of one of the state’s most iconic species, the Florida panther, repeatedly visiting a solar energy center showcases our work to ensure that wildlife can co-exist and thrive while we continue to deliver reliable and affordable power to Floridians.”

FPL has partnered with numerous environmental organizations, including the Florida Wildlife Federation and Defenders of Wildlife, to develop solar energy centers that allow animals to easily traverse through wildlife-friendly fencing. The majority of the company’s future solar energy centers will include this wildlife-friendly fencing.

“Through communication with FPL, we have long been aware of various species accessing the solar energy centers, but we really hadn’t gotten any photos of panthers,” said Meredith Budd, regional policy director with the Florida Wildlife Federation. “To see actual panthers photographed by the remote cameras placed within and around the solar field shows that the wildlife-friendly fencing is effective. It’s a success story.”

The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission estimates the Florida panther to have population numbers ranging from 120 to 230 individuals. Budd said the state has “come a long way” from previous “double-digit” population numbers. Budd added that it’s crucial to provide space and connectivity for Florida panther movements, as an adult male can require up to 200 square miles, or the equivalent of 97,000 football fields.

“Making the footprint of these solar energy centers compatible with wildlife needs is a win-win,” Budd said. “Our Florida communities will benefit not only from the transition to clean energy, but our wildlife will benefit from access to the sites as well. Solar does not block off connectivity. It allows wildlife, especially our endangered Florida panther, to use the space.”

Elizabeth Fleming, senior Florida representative with Defenders of Wildlife, says they’ve started to see female Florida panthers move north of the Caloosahatchee River for the first time in 40 years. These Florida panther images at an FPL solar energy center are very important as the company and environmental organizations work together to ensure Florida panthers can expand their range and continue to move northward.

“When a project is developed and planned with wildlife in mind, we absolutely do believe that the clean energy and wildlife habitat goals can be met,” said Fleming. “We look forward to continuing to partner with FPL as these projects go forward in the future, making sure they continue to help wildlife thrive in the state of Florida.” 

To learn more about FPL’s solar energy centers, click here.

Photos of Florida panther at FPL Sawgrass Solar Energy Center: https://fpl.sharefile.com/share/view/scb9b0c21c4ed49f484f6917d2a18558d 

Florida Power & Light Company  
As America’s largest electric utility, Florida Power & Light Company serves more customers and sells more power than any other utility, providing clean, affordable, reliable electricity to more than 5.8 million accounts, or more than 12 million people. FPL operates one of the cleanest power generation fleets in the U.S and in 2021 won the ReliabilityOne® National Reliability Award for the sixth time in the last seven years. The company received the top ranking in the southern U.S. among large electric providers, according to J.D. Power’s 2021 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction StudySM and 2021 Electric Utility Business Customer Satisfaction StudySM. The company was also recognized in 2020 as one of the most trusted U.S. electric utilities by Escalent for the seventh consecutive year. FPL is a subsidiary of Juno Beach, Florida-based NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NEE), a clean energy company widely recognized for its efforts in sustainability, corporate responsibility, ethics and compliance, and diversity.  NextEra Energy is ranked No. 1 in the electric and gas utilities industry in Fortune’s 2022 list of “World’s Most Admired Companies” and recognized on Fortune’s 2021 list of companies that “Change the World.” 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 and a world leader in battery storage. For more information about NextEra Energy companies, visit these websites: www.NextEraEnergy.com, www.FPL.com, www.NextEraEnergyResources.com

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