FPL breaks ground on three new solar power plants that will triple the amount of solar it provides its customers

New community-scale solar plants will be among the largest in the Eastern U.S., comprising more than 1 million solar panels

Feb 11, 2016, 10:00 ET from Florida Power & Light Company

PARRISH, Fla., Feb. 11, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) today celebrated the ground breaking of its three new solar power plants with a ceremony on the site of the future FPL Manatee Solar Energy Center.

The three new large, community-scale plants, which include the FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center and the FPL Citrus Solar Energy Center, are expected to begin producing affordable, clean energy by the end of 2016 and will triple the company's current solar capacity.

"Six years ago, not far from here, FPL commissioned what was then the largest photovoltaic solar power plant ever built in the United States with 90,000 solar panels," said Eric Silagy, FPL president and CEO. "Fast-forward to 2016, and we're extending our leadership role in the renewable energy space by installing 1 million new solar panels. If you laid these panels end to end, they would nearly wrap around the entire state. But we couldn't have come this far on our own. Working with the communities we serve, we are building solar energy centers that are not only reliable, but also cost-effective, providing affordable, clean energy for our customers for generations to come."

FPL has been working for several years to find ways to reduce costs in order to make the construction of these three solar plants cost-effective. The company identified three suitable existing sites with unique built-in advantages, such as the existence of sufficient transmission and substation infrastructure, and strong community support. Also, by buying solar panels in such a large quantity, FPL has been able to realize significant savings for customers. Without these unique cost advantages, solar power – even the most economical community-scale installation – is still generally not yet cost-effective in FPL's service area, due in part to its higher costs compared with the company's highly efficient system and low electric rates.

"I commend FPL for embracing solar energy and leveraging this technology in a cost-effective way to meet our state's current and future clean energy needs," said Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam, who addressed guests at the ground breaking ceremony.

The FPL Manatee Solar Energy Center will consist of more than 338,000 solar panels over 762 acres – enough to cover 577 football fields. The other two solar plants are:

  • FPL Citrus Solar Energy Center, which is being built on 841 acres in DeSoto County, Fla., near the site of FPL's first large-scale solar power plant
  • FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center, now under construction on 440 acres in Charlotte County, Fla., as part of the new Babcock Ranch sustainable community

When completed, each of the three new solar plants will have 74.5 megawatts of solar capacity. These plants, along with several community-based, small-scale solar arrays and commercial-scale solar research installations that FPL is building, will combine for a total of more than 225 megawatts of new solar capacity by the end of this year. This will effectively triple FPL's solar capacity, which currently totals approximately 110 megawatts.

The three new solar energy centers will employ nearly 250 people during construction, helping support the local economies of the three communities.

"Making smart, cost-conscious investments in clean, renewable solar energy is the right thing to do for our state," said Vanessa Baugh, Manatee County Commission Chairman. "We are very pleased to partner with FPL on this project that will also provide a much-needed injection of economic activity to our community, including hundreds of construction jobs."

"This is a big step forward for our state and for the future of renewable energy in Florida," said Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon Florida. "FPL's three solar plants help reduce the use of fossil fuels, prevent the emission of thousands of tons of carbon each year and save millions of gallons of water."

These projects will join the company's existing solar facilities: the FPL Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center near Cape Canaveral, Fla.; the FPL DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in DeSoto County, Fla.; and the FPL Martin Clean Energy Center, the world's first hybrid solar/natural gas plant. These solar plants were built in 2009 and 2010 and have the combined capacity to generate 110 megawatts of power. In addition, FPL has built more than 100 solar arrays for Florida schools and other educational facilities, and is currently building solar installations at the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society, the Broward Young At Art Museum & Library, Florida International University, Daytona International Speedway and several other locations around the state.

About Florida Power & Light Company
Florida Power & Light Company is the third-largest electric utility in the United States, serving more than 4.8 million customer accounts across nearly half of the state of Florida. FPL's typical 1,000-kWh residential customer bill is approximately 30 percent lower than the latest national average and, in 2015, was the lowest in Florida among reporting utilities for the sixth year in a row. FPL's service reliability is better than 99.98 percent, and its highly fuel-efficient power plant fleet is one of the cleanest among all utilities nationwide. The company was recognized in 2015 as one of the most trusted U.S. electric utilities by Market Strategies International. A leading Florida employer with approximately 8,800 employees, FPL is a subsidiary of Juno Beach, Fla.-based NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NEE), a clean energy company widely recognized for its efforts in sustainability, ethics and diversity, including being ranked in the top 10 worldwide for innovativeness and community responsibility as part of Fortune's 2015 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. For more information, visit these websites: www.NextEraEnergy.com, www.FPL.com, www.NextEraEnergyResources.com.

Cautionary Statements and Risk Factors That May Affect Future Results

This news release contains "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements are not statements of historical facts, but instead represent the current expectations of NextEra Energy, Inc. (NextEra Energy) and Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) regarding future operating results and other future events, many of which, by their nature, are inherently uncertain and outside of NextEra Energy's and FPL's control. Forward looking statements in this new release include, among others, statements concerning FPL's plans for requesting new base rates.  In some cases, you can identify the forward-looking statements by words or phrases such as "will," "may result," "expect," "anticipate," "believe," "intend," "plan," "seek," "aim," "potential," "projection," "forecast," "predict," "goals," "target," "outlook," "should," "would" or similar words or expressions. You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which are not a guarantee of future performance. The future results of NextEra Energy and FPL and their business and financial condition are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause their actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements, or may require them to limit or eliminate certain operations. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, the following: effects of extensive regulation of NextEra Energy's and FPL's business operations; inability of NextEra Energy and FPL to recover in a timely manner any significant amount of costs, a return on certain assets or a reasonable return on invested capital through base rates, cost recovery clauses, other regulatory mechanisms or otherwise; impact of political, regulatory and economic factors on regulatory decisions important to NextEra Energy and FPL; dis allowance of cost recovery by FPL based on a finding of imprudent use of derivative instruments; effect of any reductions to or elimination of governmental incentives that support utility scale renewable energy projects of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC and its affiliated entities (NextEra Energy Resources) or the imposition of additional taxes or assessments on renewable energy; impact of new or revised laws, regulations or interpretations or other regulatory initiatives on NextEra Energy and FPL; effect on NextEra Energy and FPL of potential regulatory action to broaden the scope of regulation of over-the-counter (OTC) financial derivatives and to apply such regulation to NextEra Energy and FPL; capital expenditures, increased operating costs and various liabilities attributable to environmental laws, regulations and other standards applicable to NextEra Energy and FPL; effects on NextEra Energy and FPL of federal or state laws or regulations mandating new or additional limits on the production of greenhouse gas emissions; exposure of NextEra Energy and FPL to significant and increasing compliance costs and substantial monetary penalties and other sanctions as a result of extensive federal regulation of their operations; effect on NextEra Energy and FPL of changes in tax laws and in judgments and estimates used to determine tax-related asset and liability amounts; impact on NextEra Energy and FPL of adverse results of litigation; effect on NextEra Energy and FPL of failure to proceed with projects under development or inability to complete the construction of (or capital improvements to) electric generation, transmission and distribution facilities, gas infrastructure facilities or other facilities on schedule or within budget; impact on development and operating activities of NextEra Energy and FPL resulting from risks related to project siting, financing, construction, permitting, governmental approvals and the negotiation of project development agreements; risks involved in the operation and maintenance of electric generation, transmission and distribution facilities, gas infrastructure facilities and other facilities; effect on NextEra Energy and FPL of a lack of growth or slower growth in the number of customers or in customer usage; impact on NextEra Energy and FPL of severe weather and other weather conditions; threats of terrorism and catastrophic events that could result from terrorism, cyber attacks or other attempts to disrupt NextEra Energy's and FPL's business or the businesses of third parties; inability to obtain adequate insurance coverage for protection of NextEra Energy and FPL against significant losses and risk that insurance coverage does not provide protection against all significant losses; a prolonged period of low gas and oil prices could impact NextEra Energy Resources' gas infrastructure business and cause NextEra Energy Resources to delay or cancel certain gas infrastructure projects and for certain existing projects to be impaired; risk to NextEra Energy Resources of increased operating costs resulting from unfavorable supply costs necessary to provide NextEra Energy Resources' full energy and capacity requirement services; inability or failure by NextEra Energy Resources to manage properly or hedge effectively the commodity risk within its portfolio; potential volatility of NextEra Energy's results of operations caused by sales of power on the spot market or on a short-term contractual basis; effect of reductions in the liquidity of energy markets on NextEra Energy's ability to manage operational risks; effectiveness of NextEra Energy's and FPL's risk management tools associated with their hedging and trading procedures to protect against significant losses, including the effect of unforeseen price variances from historical behavior; impact of unavailability or disruption of power transmission or commodity transportation facilities on sale and delivery of power or natural gas by FPL and NextEra Energy Resources; exposure of NextEra Energy and FPL to credit and performance risk from customers, hedging counterparties and vendors; failure of NextEra Energy or FPL counterparties to perform under derivative contracts or of requirement for NextEra Energy or FPL to post margin cash collateral under derivative contracts; failure or breach of NextEra Energy's or FPL's information technology systems; risks to NextEra Energy and FPL's retail businesses from compromise of sensitive customer data; losses from volatility in the market values of derivative instruments and limited liquidity in OTC markets; impact of negative publicity; inability of NextEra Energy and FPL to maintain, negotiate or renegotiate acceptable franchise agreements with municipalities and counties in Florida; increasing costs of health care plans; lack of a qualified workforce or the loss or retirement of key employees; occurrence of work strikes or stoppages and increasing personnel costs; NextEra Energy's ability to successfully identify, complete and integrate acquisitions, including the effect of increased competition for acquisitions; NextEra Energy Partners, LP's (NEP's) acquisitions may not be completed and, even if completed, NextEra Energy may not realize the anticipated benefits of any acquisitions; environmental, health and financial risks associated with NextEra Energy's and FPL's ownership and operation of nuclear generation facilities; liability of NextEra Energy and FPL for significant retrospective assessments and/or retrospective insurance premiums in the event of an incident at certain nuclear generation facilities; increased operating and capital expenditures at nuclear generation facilities of NextEra Energy or FPL resulting from orders or new regulations of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; inability to operate any of NextEra Energy Resources' or FPL's owned nuclear generation units through the end of their respective operating licenses; liability of NextEra Energy and FPL for increased nuclear licensing or compliance costs resulting from hazards, and increased public attention to hazards, posed to their owned nuclear generation facilities; risks associated with outages of NextEra Energy's and FPL's owned nuclear units; effect of disruptions, uncertainty or volatility in the credit and capital markets on NextEra Energy's and FPL's ability to fund their liquidity and capital needs and meet their growth objectives; inability of NextEra Energy, FPL and NextEra Energy Capital Holdings, Inc. to maintain their current credit ratings; impairment of NextEra Energy's and FPL's liquidity from inability of creditors to fund their credit commitments or to maintain their current credit ratings; poor market performance and other economic factors that could affect NextEra Energy's defined benefit pension plan's funded status; poor market performance and other risks to the asset values of NextEra Energy's and FPL's nuclear decommissioning funds; changes in market value and other risks to certain of NextEra Energy's investments; effect of inability of NextEra Energy subsidiaries to pay upstream dividends or repay funds to NextEra Energy or of NextEra Energy's performance under guarantees of subsidiary obligations on NextEra Energy's ability to meet its financial obligations and to pay dividends on its common stock; and effect of disruptions, uncertainty or volatility in the credit and capital markets of the market price of NextEra Energy's common stock. NextEra Energy and FPL discuss these and other risks and uncertainties in their annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2014 and other SEC filings, and this news release should be read in conjunction with such SEC filings made through the date of this news release. The forward-looking statements made in this news release are made only as of the date of this news release and NextEra Energy and FPL undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statements.

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SOURCE Florida Power & Light Company



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