This partnership with Florida Power and Light Company aims to transform thousands of acres of solar-generating property into thriving sanctuaries with dedicated conservation areas.

Florida Wildflower Foundation, Florida Native Plant Society, Wildlife Habitat Council and other groups are partnering with FPL and the Audubon Society. The goal? to enhance eight solar sites to conserve and create habitats benefiting birds, butterflies and other wildlife.

JUNO BEACH, Fla., Nov. 15, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) and Audubon Florida announced an innovative new partnership called “Solar Sanctuary” to enhance FPL’s solar power plant sites. Therefore, they will design and implement site-specific environmental enhancements that will make FPL solar sites bird-and pollinator-friendly havens. They are working with the Florida Wildflower Foundation, Florida Native Plant Society, Wildlife Habitat Council, local Audubon chapters and other organizations.

The partnership builds on FPL’s 2016 pilot pollinator program. As a result, pollinator-friendly plants such as wildflowers were planted to provide habitats for bees, birds and butterflies. Conclusively, approximately 15 acres of pollinator habitats were created in various counties across the state.

The site of each new facility will provide a significant amount of land to plant native grasses, trees, shrubs and vines. Quality wetlands will  be preserved to provide habitat for birds. 

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The Sunshine state

So Florida ranks ninth in the nation for solar resource. The strength of the sun’s rays makes it a great place for solar energy production. “Our beautiful state has an abundance of sun and great diversity of native plant and animal species,” said Julie Wraithmell, interin Executive Director of Audubon Florida.

Above all, FPL hosts 330,000 solar panels on roughly several hundred acres of land. Most of which is in its natural state making it an ideal location for the project. The FPL Coral Farms Solar Energy Center in Putnam County and the FPL Loggerhead Solar Energy Center in St. Lucie County are the first sites with approved plans to become Solar Sanctuaries.

Eva Ries is the president of of the St. Lucie Audubon Society. She said the Solar Sanctuary in their county will increase clean energy production. All without the negative environmental impact and residents will continue to benefit from lower energy costs. For example, FPL projects for customers will save over $100 million net in a lifetime. That’s from eight of the new solar power plants.

“When Audubon Florida approached us with this idea, we knew it was something our company wanted to be a part of,” said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL.

As a result, there are four sites that are under construction and will be included in the Solar Sanctuary Program. So, the sites are in Alachua, Putnam, DeSoto, Brevard and Hendry counties.

Solar Sanctuary Designation

Above all, FPL is planning to install more than 2.5 million solar panels across the state by 2018. Each site will provide enough land for native grasses, scrubs and trees. However, plans for each Solar Sanctuary designation will vary from location to location. Certainly, local conservation groups will advise FPL on local birds, native wildlife and other natural resources. Additionally, their help will extend into education about certain types of plants and supplemental habitat aides.

Wraithmell says Audubon is happy to be partnering with FPL and other organizations to make the best decision for native plants. With the help of the organizations, they will implement a number of enhancements. For instance, the creation of pollinator-friendly habitat areas and creating food sources for insects, songbirds and hummingbirds.

Some conservation improvements include:

• Preserving wetlands and surface waters to provide habitat for a variety of wetland-dependent wildlife species. In short, frogs, snakes, turtles and wading birds.

• Protecting existing gopher tortoise habitat and burrows.

• Planting native groundcover and shrubs. There, to provide additional food and shelter for birds and wildlife.

Moreover, plans may include building bird perches, bird boxes and creating water recharge opportunities. These improvements will even benefit neighboring agriculture communities as they will attract native pollinators to help farmers grow crops. The benefits are outstanding and expand beyond the environment.

More information about solar in Florida and FPL’s solar investments

Studying and operating solar panels began over thirty years ago for FPL. As a result, they are now one of the cleanest electric utility companies in the nation. They commissioned their first universal installation in Miami in 1984. Over the years, FPL has continued to test and operate a wide variety of solar technologies.

FPL has ambitious plans for Florida. That is to say, that in 2009 the company built the 25-megawatt FPL DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center, which was the largest solar PV power plant ever built in the U.S. at the time. In 2016, FPL became the first company to build solar cost-effectively in Florida. Subsequently, this leveraged its purchasing power and sites with key advantages to complete three 74.5-megawatt universal solar power plants that are projected to result in net customer savings over their operational lifetimes.

FPL serves about 5 million customer accounts in Florida, to date. In other words, about 10 million people across most of the state. Residential customers who use the typical 1,000 kWh of electricity have a 25 percent lower bill than the national average. According to the J.D. Power 2016 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction StudySM, FPL received the highest ranking among southern U.S. large electric providers. Subsequently, FPL was as recognized as one of the most trusted U.S. electric utilities by Market Strategies International in 2017.

In conclusion, the utility company is confident that solar power will surpass fossil fuels. To clarify, they project it will outpace oil and coal combined as a percentage of their energy mix.

For more information, visit www.FPL.com/solar.

Florida Power & Light Company, NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, www.NextEraEnergy.com, www.FPL.com, www.NextEraEnergyResources.com.

SOURCE Florida Power & Light Company