Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) announced the opening of its fifth solar energy center in DeSoto County on Thursday.
The new facility, called the FPL Rodeo Solar Energy Center, has started serving customers, making DeSoto County the epicenter of FPL’s solar energy expansion. The 74.5-megawatt (MW) center comprises approximately 300,000 panels and marks the completed development on land FPL originally purchased in the 1960s. It is also the county’s second solar energy center built to support the nation’s largest community solar program, FPL SolarTogether.
“For more than a decade, FPL has been on a mission to turn the Sunshine State into a leader in clean energy and sustainability, and so much of it has been anchored in DeSoto County,” said FPL President and CEO Eric Silagy. “But DeSoto County isn’t just home to millions of solar panels – it’s also a hub for clean energy innovation. Every time FPL has decided to disrupt the status quo, push the limits or test new ideas, DeSoto County has shown up as an eager partner. The FPL Rodeo Solar Energy Center may be the last solar center on this site, but we hope it’s just the beginning of many more innovative projects to come.”
Talk about the host with the most! DeSoto County now has more FPL #solar #energy centers than any other Florida county. The completion of the FPL Rodeo Solar Energy Center brings DeSoto County’s total up to five! pic.twitter.com/Gt2HiooS8l
— Florida Power & Light (@insideFPL) May 13, 2021
DeSoto County served as the foundation for FPL’s solar investments after the utility company completed construction in 2009 of the FPL DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center. At 25 MW and about 90,000 panels, DeSoto Next Generation was the largest of its kind in the nation at the time and was commissioned by former President Barack Obama.
In 2016, FPL continued its solar expansion in the Sunshine State, building three more solar energy centers in Florida, one of which was the FPL Citrus Solar Energy Center, built on the same site as the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center. At 74.5 MW, each one of the three centers was three times the size of the first and still cost less to build. FPL built its Wildflower and Cattle Ranch solar energy centers in 2018 and 2020 respectively, making DeSoto County home to a total of four solar energy centers at the time.
“FPL has been a wonderful friend to this community, and it’s been a thrill to watch their clean energy transformation unfold right before our eyes in DeSoto County,” said DeSoto County Commissioner J.C. Deriso. “When our journey began in 2009, we couldn’t have dreamed our legacy would kick off such a rapid solar expansion across the state, or that this county would be home to five solar energy centers and more than a million solar panels. I don’t know what the future holds, but I hope DeSoto County continues to be at the center of clean energy innovation.”