With construction of the first solar farm nearing completion, Florida Power & Light is moving forward on a second site now that the power company has the County Commission’s blessing.
The FPL Loggerhead Solar Energy Center, located approximately 7 miles west of Tradition along Glades Cut Off Road, is expected to be operational by March, providing electricity back to the grid.
Loggerhead sits on 565 acres and consists of approximately 330,000 solar panels staked to the ground. According to FPL, it will generate enough power for approximately 15,000 homes – the equivalent of removing 12,600 vehicles from the road annually.
The newest farm – called Interstate Solar Energy Center – will be situated between Interstate 95 and the Florida Turnpike and between Indrio and Angle roads.
The Interstate center is expected to be online in spring 2019.
Unlike its sister farm near Tradition, the Interstate farm will also be home to an educational center, open to the public.
The educational center will allow visitors to come and see what’s happening at the solar farm and learn about clean and green energies.
“We can’t teach our young unless we have places” such as these, said Commissioner Linda Bartz. “That’s an impression for future generations.”
FPL and St. Lucie County officials haggled over the property, ultimately shifting the solar panels to the northern end of the property, allowing for a conservation easement along the southern portion.
County staff – as well as commissioners – requested the easement to ensure enough land was set aside for a possible airport connector road sometime in the future.
Commission Chris Dzadovsky said the connector road has been on the county’s planning books since 1984 and added that it is his hope that FPL would support the road as the Turnpike Authority undergoes its review for a potential interchange there.
That general area has been flagged for manufacturing and distributing development.
Lisa Paul, a spokeswoman for FPL, told St. Lucie Voice the company plans to add an average of nearly 300 megawatts of new solar annually from 2017 through at least 2023. That would amount to nearly 2,100 megawatts of solar power across Florida – the equivalent of powering 420,000 homes, she said.
FPL continues to scout out locations for future solar farms.
Sites that are near existing power poles, wires and other infrastructure are sites worth considering, according to Paul. Whether FPL is looking at adding a third site elsewhere in St. Lucie County was not immediately revealed.