Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) today announced that, in an effort to offer more customers the choice to support solar power, it is proposing a voluntary, community-based, solar partnership pilot for consideration by the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC).
If approved, FPL will install new solar-powered generating facilities in Florida communities, funded by voluntary contributions from FPL customers who choose to participate in the pilot program. Key to its design, and unlike current solar rebate programs, the pilot will not increase electric bills for customers who choose not to participate.
"As the leader in providing the most solar power in the Sunshine State, FPL has long been committed to planning for Florida's clean-energy future, and we, along with our customers, believe solar should play an increasing role in Florida's energy mix," said Eric Silagy, president of FPL. "For customers who care deeply about advancing clean energy – including those who may not have the ability or desire to install their own solar systems – we are proposing to create a voluntary, community-based partnership that is designed to help grow solar in Florida without costing a penny for those who choose not to participate."
Through this voluntary pilot program, FPL customers will have the opportunity to elect to contribute to advancing solar power in Florida for $9 a month. During the next three years, FPL projects that the program could support are the construction of as many as 25 commercial-scale, distributed solar arrays – each roughly 10 to 15 times larger than a typical residential rooftop installation – for an estimated total of up to 2,400 kilowatts (2.4 megawatts), depending on customer participation.
"We know that some of our customers have an affinity for solar power, but we also know that for a variety of reasons, many are not able to install it themselves. This pilot program will allow us, along with the PSC, to truly gauge customer interest in supporting solar power," said Silagy. "Ultimately, any program we offer must be designed to benefit all of our customers, and this voluntary, community-based solar program is designed with that goal in mind."
The pilot program is expected to begin accepting voluntary customer contributions in 2015. FPL plans to provide the initial necessary funding so that the installation of at least the first two to five solar arrays can begin in early 2015, in anticipation of receiving sufficient funding from customers. The arrays will be constructed by local, Florida-based solar installers selected through a competitive bid process.
As an incentive to encourage customer participation during the three-year pilot, the charitable foundation of FPL's parent company, NextEra Energy, will contribute a total of $200,000 a year on behalf of the program to Florida-based non-profit organizations and local chapters of national non-profits dedicated to environmental protection and community development. Customers who sign up for the pilot will have the opportunity to select their preferred organization from a list of several well-recognized, reputable non-profits, including the Everglades Foundation, Save the Manatee Club and the Florida chapters of the National Audubon Society and The Nature Conservancy.
Among the first communities selected to host the new solar arrays are Fort Lauderdale, Sarasota and West Palm Beach, Fla. FPL is also working with additional communities across the company's 35-county territory to determine sites for potential installations based on a variety of factors, including space availability and local customer interest in the program.
FPL customers can visit www.FPL.com/solar to learn more about the proposed new pilot program and FPL's other solar initiatives, including the company's three large-scale solar energy centers, which have a combined generating capacity of 110 megawatts.