More than 48,000 residential customers have signed up for the Florida Power and Light (FPL) SolarTogether program, with another 2,000 customers joining a waitlist. The subscription-based service, approved last year by the Public Service Commission which regulates electric utilities, allows customers to meet up to 100 percent of their energy needs through solar power without any upfront costs or long-term commitments to purchase solar equipment.
FPL said in a press release that power generation from the “SolarTogether” program is supported by 20 new, universal solar energy centers that the company built across the state. FPL’s newest site – the FPL Fort Drum Solar Energy Center in Okeechobee County – began generating power for customers at the end of June. The company said that due to the popularity of the SolarTogether program, both residential and commercial subscriptions were sold out months before the FPL Fort Drum Solar Energy Center went online.
“We developed the FPL SolarTogetherTM program because customers wanted access to clean, cost-effective solar energy, and the response to the program was almost immediate,” said Eric Silagy, President and CEO of FPL. “By participating, our dedicated FPL SolarTogetherTM customers are encouraging the buildout of cost-effective solar across the state, making Florida the largest, most affordable and most accessible solar state in the nation.”
The announcement wasn’t the only one Wednesday that reinforced the state’s growing reliance on solar-generated electricity. Duke Energy Florida unveiled the locations for four new large-scale solar generation plants as part of that company’s $1 billion, 10-site solar infrastructure investment plan.
Construction on the four Duke sites are slated to begin in early 2022 and the company says it will take approximately 9 to 12 months to complete. Construction of all 10 sites is projected to be finished by late 2024. Combined, the plants will produce about 750 megawatts (MW) of new, cost-effective solar power.
“We continue investing in utility-scale solar in Florida because our customers deserve a cleaner energy future,” said Duke Energy Florida state president Melissa Seixas. “These solar plants are the latest milestones in our strategy to deliver reliable, cost-effective, clean energy to our customers.”
Duke’s emphasis on cost-effective energy generation comes at a time when the company is fighting off sustained criticism of its business operations in Florida. Yesterday, one of Duke’s major investors, Elliott Management, blasted North Carolina-based Duke Energy, and singled out the company’s Florida subsidiary for “particularly egregious” performance, including high executive pay, high electric rates charged to customers, and low reliability.
Duke Energy’s solar generation portfolio represents more than $2 billion of investment, about 1,500-MW of emission-free generation and approximately five million solar panels in the ground by 2024. The company currently has more than 900-MW of solar generation under construction or in operation in Florida, according to the release.
FPL says its current solar commitments are expected to save customers an estimated $400 million over the life of the assets. By itself, FLP says the SolarTogether program is expected to generate $249 million in net cost savings for both participants and customers.