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Solar City To Be Built In Florida

The city of the future will be built from scratch around renewable resources. California and Florida resources are being pooled to create the first such 'solar city'...Babcock Ranch.

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"Babcock Ranch" could be the nation's first solar-powered city -- a cluster of homes, offices and factories less than 20 miles from Fort Meyers, Florida on the Gulf Coast.

This 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. The development would also include small solar installations at homes and businesses, designed with the latest energy efficiency measures. He expects to start selling the homes some time in 2010, and begin construction in 2011.

Florida Power & Light Co. would build a 75-megawatt solar photovoltaic array to supply electricity to the development's 6 million square feet of residential, industrial and retail buildings.

FPL Group subsidiary NextEra Energy Resources owns the world’s largest solar power plant in California, a 310 megawatt solar thermal plant, which produces electricity by using the sun’s heat to create steam that turns a turbine.

The state of Florida and Lee County paid $350 million for 74,000 acres of cypress domes and pine forests in 2005. Five times the size of Manhattan, it remains the single largest conservation purchase in Florida history.

In exchange for selling the land to the state, developer Sydney Kitson got a green light to use the remaining 18,000 acres for an eco-friendly town that includes six million square feet of retail and non-residential space — equal to six malls — miles from the nearest city.

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Eric Silagy, who heads development for FPL, said construction on the 75-megawatt solar photovoltaic array will begin late this year or in the first quarter of 2010. Construction will take about a year, employ about 400 workers, and cost $350 million to $400 million. The cost will be borne by FPL’s 4.5 million customers, at a cost of about 20 cents a month, Silagy said.

Florida Power & Light is the state’s largest utility, and is a subsidiary of FPL Group, a world leader in solar and wind energy.

The city will rely on FPL’s fossil fuel and nuclear power plants at night and when the sun isn’t shining. The solar array and the city will be connected to FPL’s power grid, and the development is slated to use less power than the nearby solar array produces, making it a net exporter of solar electricity, Silagy said.

So solar electricity will power the city when the sun shines, and send unneeded solar energy to other FPL customers. At night, the city will draw power from the utility’s conventional power plants.

FPL Group
Babcock Ranch
NextEra Energy Resources

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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