JUNO BEACH, Fla. – Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) today announced the new FPL Rodeo Solar Energy Center has begun serving customers, marking the completion of FPL’s fifth solar energy center in DeSoto County and making DeSoto the county with the most FPL solar energy centers in Florida.
The 74.5-megawatt (MW) FPL Rodeo Solar Energy Center comprises approximately 300,000 panels and marks the completed development on land FPL originally purchased in the 1960s. It is also the county’s second solar energy center built to support the nation’s largest community solar program, FPL SolarTogether™.
DeSoto County served as a launching pad for FPL’s solar investments with the 2009 construction of the FPL DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center. At 25 MW and about 90,000 panels, DeSoto Next Generation was the largest of its kind in the nation at the time and was commissioned by former President Barack Obama. DeSoto County has served as an innovative hub for FPL’s clean energy ideas and investments ever since.
“For more than a decade, FPL has been on a mission to turn the Sunshine State into a leader in clean energy and sustainability, and so much of it has been anchored in DeSoto County,” said FPL President and CEO Eric Silagy. “But DeSoto County isn’t just home to millions of solar panels – it’s also a hub for clean energy innovation. Every time FPL has decided to disrupt the status quo, push the limits or test new ideas, DeSoto County has shown up as an eager partner. The FPL Rodeo Solar Energy Center may be the last solar center on this site, but we hope it’s just the beginning of many more innovative projects to come.”
In 2016, FPL was able to build three more solar energy centers in Florida, one of which was the FPL Citrus Solar Energy Center, built on the same site as the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center. At 74.5 MW, each one of the three centers were three times the size of the first and still cost less to build. FPL built its Wildflower and Cattle Ranch solar energy centers in 2018 and 2020 respectively, making DeSoto County home to a total of four solar energy centers at the time.
“FPL has been a wonderful friend to this community, and it’s been a thrill to watch their clean energy transformation unfold right before our eyes in DeSoto County,” said DeSoto County Commissioner J.C. Deriso. “When our journey began in 2009, we couldn’t have dreamed our legacy would kick off such a rapid solar expansion across the state, or that this county would be home to five solar energy centers and more than a million solar panels. I don’t know what the future holds, but I hope DeSoto County continues to be at the center of clean energy innovation.”
An innovative hub for FPL’s clean energy ideas and investments
Throughout FPL and DeSoto’s longstanding partnership, the county has served as an innovative hub for FPL’s clean energy ideas and investments – remaining at the forefront of universal solar, community solar and even energy storage. Built in 2020, the FPL Cattle Ranch Solar Energy Center was DeSoto County’s fourth solar project and was among the first of six solar energy centers statewide built to support FPL’s SolarTogether™ program – the largest community solar program in the nation.
In 2018, FPL announced the first-of-its kind large-scale application of “DC-coupled” batteries at a solar plant in the nation – a 4 MW / 16 MWh storage system located at the FPL Citrus Solar Energy Center in DeSoto County. During optimal operating periods, a solar plant may generate more power than its inverters can process. DC-coupled batteries can harness the surplus energy that would otherwise be lost or “clipped” by the inverter. Today, FPL is in the midst of constructing the world’s largest integrated solar-powered battery at the Manatee Energy Storage Center just 50 miles northwest of DeSoto County.
Once a solar site is constructed, one of the largest costs is ground maintenance, or mowing the grass. The DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center was the first site to test the use of sheep to help keep operating and maintenance costs down by allowing the sheep to graze on site.
Florida Power & Light Company
Florida Power & Light Company is the largest energy company in the U.S. as measured by retail electricity produced and sold. The company serves more than 5.6 million customer accounts supporting more than 11 million residents across Florida with clean, reliable and affordable electricity. FPL operates one of the cleanest power generation fleets in the U.S. and in 2020 won the ReliabilityOne® National Reliability Excellence Award, presented by PA Consulting, for the fifth time in the last six years. The company was 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, ethics and diversity, and has been ranked No. 1 in the electric and gas utilities industry in Fortune’s 2020 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 and a world leader in battery storage. For more information about NextEra Energy companies, visit these websites: www.NextEraEnergy.com, www.FPL.com, www.GulfPower.com, www.NextEraEnergyResources.com.