Spanning approximately 500 acres in western Martin County, Fla., this one-of-a-kind hybrid facility connects a field of more than 190,000 solar thermal mirrors with an existing combined-cycle natural gas power plant. Innovative technology enables the mirrors to track the sun over the course of a day to harness free fuel from the sun's rays to create electricity and directly offset the use of fossil fuels.
"From job creation to cleaner air to energy security, this project demonstrates the many benefits of investing in large-scale renewable energy, especially in Florida," said FPL President and CEO Armando J. Olivera. "Leadership by the Florida Legislature in 2008 made this project and its myriad benefits possible.
We're hopeful that today's leaders will take action to enable more cost-effective investments like this so we can continue taking dramatic steps forward to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and get more Floridians back to work quickly."
Construction of FPL's Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center over the past two years provided more than 1,000 direct jobs, the majority of which were filled by Floridians. In addition, the project utilized more than 150 businesses from across the state, helping support the employment of thousands of additional Floridians during difficult economic times.
FPL's 75-megawatt Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center is designed to harness free fuel from the sun's rays to power about 11,000 homes. This technology is expected to reduce fossil fuel consumption by approximately 41 billion cubic feet of natural gas and more than 600,000 barrels of oil which would prevent the release of more than 2.75 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions and save FPL customers approximately $178 million in fuel costs over the facility's estimated 30-year lifetime.
"Diversifying our state's energy sources is not only good energy policy, it can be good for the economy as well. This project demonstrated that when Florida facilitates significant private investment, we can plan for our future and get Floridians back to work at the same time," said Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos.
"Energy security is critical to our national security. FPL's new hybrid solar facility is an important piece of an all-of-the-above energy solution, and I'm glad to see our state is once again leading the way toward a more secure energy future for Florida and America," said U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney.
FPL's Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center was officially declared in-service in November 2010 and is the third of three large-scale solar projects that the company has completed over the past two years, creating more than 5,000 direct and indirect jobs. These three plants combined are now delivering a total of 110 megawatts of clean, solar energy to Floridians.
"Today we are creating Florida's future as the clean energy state. By investing in emissions-free solar power, FPL is creating a brighter future and reducing the risk to our citizens from the environmental and economic risks of fossil fuels," said Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon of Florida.
In addition, the plant is expected to generate more than $5 million in new local tax revenue in its first full year of operation, enabling Martin County to devote considerable resources toward long-term economic development.
"The positive impact this project has had on our community and will continue to have on Martin County in the coming decades is extraordinary," said Ed Ciampi, chairman of the Board of County Commissioners. "This innovative project showcases Martin County and Florida to the world as a dynamic leader in solar energy, and we couldn't be more proud."
FPL has already secured and permitted sites where more than 500 megawatts of new solar power could be built and is ready to launch several projects right away that would employ thousands of Floridians during construction, support local businesses and benefit customers.
"With a strong commitment from the state, large-scale renewable energy projects could attract new research and development, manufacturing and more to Florida, laying the foundation for a lasting industry to support the state's long-term economic growth," Olivera said.