July 15, 2008

State Panel Approves FPL Solar Plants

By John Dorschner, The Miami Herald

Jul. 15--Offering effusive praise, state regulators Tuesday morning unanimously supported Florida Power & Light's proposal to build the first commercial-scale solar plants in Florida.

Commissioner Nathan Skop called the Martin County project, linking solar thermal power to a natural gas plant, "a very innovative approach. . . . I think this is very exciting."

"I'm just thrilled with this," Commissioner Nancy Argenziano said at the meeting of the Public Service Commission in Tallahassee.

Chairman Matthew M. Carter II said the solar plan "has set Florida at the forefront" of states pushing renewable energy.

FPL's plans include a 25-megawatt plant in DeSoto County, which FPL says would be the largest photovoltaic facility in the world, a 10-megawatt photovoltaic facility at the Kennedy Space Center and the 75-megawatt facility in Martin County.

"Today's decision by the PSC represents a major step forward in making Florida a leader in solar power generation," FPL President Armando Olivera said in a prepared statement. "At a time of record-setting fossil fuel prices and concern over global climate change, solar power helps to meet the goals of protecting the environment and enhancing Florida's energy security."

The company said the three projects were part of its commitment to build 300 megawatts of solar power that it made at the Clinton Global Initiative in September. "With today's approval of 110 megawatts of solar power, FPL is well on its way to meeting more than one third of its Florida target in less than a year," the company said in a press release.

Technically, the vote Tuesday was on a staff recommendation that FPL's proposals for 110 megawatts of renewable power met the Legislature's recent action to allow full-cost recovery of a utility building 110-megawatts of renewable energy generators. A more detailed look at FPL's proposal could come later.

Commissioners also gave a unanimous go-ahead to Progress Energy Florida's proposal for two new nuclear generating facilities.


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