If you have been following solar power in America, this is a huge story. Historically, the state of Florida has been something of a solar power laggard, even though it receives a great deal of sunshine that could be used many days of every year to generate clean electricity.
Politics has been the main barrier. It certainly isn’t a lack of rooftop space or money. Generally, Florida has been a Republican stronghold and the Republican party has been more supportive of fossil fuels. Think Ronald Reagan having solar panels removed from the White House roof not too long after Jimmy Carter had them installed.
Another conservative state recently expanded its solar power investment greatly. Like Florida, Georgia was behind in the development of solar power capacity, but it took a huge leap forward.
Similarly, Florida Power & Light just announced plants to add at least 220 MW of new solar power capacity. The plan is to build three new solar power plants by the end of 2016. Some fossil-fuel plants currently in operation will be retired.
“As the economics of solar power improve in the years ahead, we believe we will be able to harness more and more sunshine cost-effectively, alongside essential, high-efficiency, clean natural gas generation and zero-emissions nuclear power, to continue powering our customers and the state’s growing economy with affordable clean energy,” explained Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL.
Solar power costs have dropped dramatically in the last several years. The economics have never been more favorable. It is very likely to be true that they will continue to improve for all of us as we go forward, because solar panels are gradually becoming more powerful.
FPL serves about 4.7 million customers in Florida, so it has considerable influence.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, Florida has about 229 MW of solar power. The planned FPL solar plants will nearly double this amount. Aside from these details, what may be the most exciting aspect of this situation is that Florida might be finally opening up to its true solar power potential, which is one of the best of the American states.