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Nation's First Solar City in Florida


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View David Guest's blog posts
22 April 2009, 12:50 AM
 

Talk about a great Earth Day present! Florida Power and Light and Kitson & Partners made a stunning announcement April 9, saying they plan to build the nation's first solar-powered city—a cluster of homes, offices and factories less than 20 miles from Fort Myers on Florida's Gulf Coast.

What a turnaround. Just two years ago, we were fighting FPL's proposal to build America's largest coal-fired power plant in Glades County, near the Everglades. We celebrated when the Florida Public Service Commission rejected FPL's plan, citing concern about global warming pollutants for the first time.

Now it looks like Florida could become the "Sunshine State" for real.

FPL plans a 75-megawatt solar photovoltaic array to help power the development. The solar plant is slated for Babcock Ranch, part of which the state bought several years ago and crafted as a mix of conservation lands and planned development.

FPL's plan to invest big in solar energy is proof that litigation moves the ball along. What we're seeing here is a real change in thinking.

Developer Syd Kitson told reporters the 45,000-resident solar city would be built on 17,000 acres in Charlotte and Lee counties, with more than half of the land set aside for nature preserves, agriculture and other open space.

Our hope is that FPL's solar plant in southwest Florida is the start of more solar power development for the state. We also hope it nudges officials to be more forward-thinking.

Right now, at the other end of the state, we're appealing the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation's ridiculous approval of what would be the first new coal plant built in Florida in well over a decade.

The coal-fired generator at the Seminole Power Plant in northeast Florida's Palatka is outdated and dirty technology, and it should have been rejected, just as FPL's giant Glades County coal plant was.

To us, the DEP's continued defense of this coal plant in northeast Florida stands in stark contrast to FPL's decision to move away from outdated energy technologies. It doesn't make sense.

Developer Kitson stold reporters that he envisions his Babcock Ranch development as a "a true living laboratory of the new-energy economy ... where innovative companies can design, build and use the renewable and efficient technologies that customers across the country and around the globe will need. Solar is just the first step," he said.

For those of us who have spent many Earth Days fighting against dirty power, it's a great first step.

Amen, Agnes, AMEN! There is NO "earth justice" to this project.

this is no victory. 17,000 more acres of everglades succumbs to development. This didnt need to happen. The already existing rooftops in Florida are more than adequate to accomodate enough PV systems to power the entire state.

Florida also needs to work on an active campaign to wipe out cosmetic lawn and pond poison (herbicides and pesticides) from being sprayed indiscriminately and needlessly exposing children to hazardous chemicals. Florida also has to work on giving teeth to the Fl Dept of Agriculture so that it will begin to bite the pesticide companies who offend, rather than being their enablers.

I'm sorry to have to disillusion you, but FPL is currently building the largest fossil fuel power plant in the U.S. right here in South Florida. The West County Energy Center (WCEC) is loated in the Everglades Agricultural Area, 1,000 feet from the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge. The refuge functions as the northern headwaters of the entire southern Everglades ecosystem.
There are law suits and there has been ongoing public outcry but so far FPL is proceeding with no apparent concern for anyone other than themselves.
FPL's solar plan is a nice PR plan.

Solar is good, but then there is the fresh water issue. SW Florida is at sea level and fresh water is scarce and subject to salt water intrusion. There's a reason that this land hasn't been developed before. Unless we stop climate chaos, Florida will be under water.

Yes, but this "city" is being built on conservation land which is prime panther and black bear habitat.

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