The Next Step for Solar in the Sunshine State

Today, I am writing from Dallas, Texas, where I just participated in an inspiring roundtable discussion with leaders of other utilities that are making a difference in renewable energy. I’m at Solar Power International (SPI) 2011 – North America’s largest and most comprehensive solar power trade show and conference, sponsored by two nonprofit organizations, SEIA and SEPA – and I can tell you this: despite the many uncertainties facing us in today’s world, one thing is for sure − the future of solar power is bright.

So, what does our dedication to solar power mean for our customers?

At FPL, harnessing the sun’s energy and believing in the value and promise of renewable sources of power is an important part of who we are. Our parent company, NextEra Energy, is the largest generator of solar power in the United States today. The company co-owns and operates seven solar plants in California, and here in Florida, we at FPL moved swiftly in recent years to construct three large-scale solar energy facilities – all of which are in operation today generating emissions-free energy for our customers.

These facilities include what at the time of its dedication was the largest solar photovoltaic power plant in the country, as well as the world’s first hybrid solar energy center. Our three solar facilities created more than 5,000 direct and indirect jobs during construction. We’re proud to have worked with superb Floridians and Florida companies on all of these projects and to have completed all of them ahead of schedule and more than $100 million under budget. Over the plants’ 30-year operating lives, they will allow us to reduce the fossil fuel we burn by an estimated 51 billion cubic feet of natural gas and 1 million barrels of oil. This will prevent the emission of more than 3.5 million tons of greenhouse gases, the equivalent of removing 25,000 cars from the road every year for the life of the projects. 

Leadership that Makes a Difference

 Our goal at FPL is not simply to participate in the move toward renewable sources of energy – it is to help lead the way. As part of our commitment to leadership, we want to serve as a model and a source of inspiration to other energy companies – not just in Florida, but across the nation. We want to show community leaders and policy makers exactly how important solar energy is, and what needs to be done to realize a solar future. And finally, we want to demonstrate to our customers that renewable energy will not only help change the world for the better, it can improve their daily lives as well.

The fact is, our pursuit of solar energy is part of our overall dedication to sustainability. It is a reflection of our desire to be the best possible stewards of our environment. But it is also in keeping with our commitment to provide reliable, affordable energy to our customers while keeping America strong and energy independent. 

Achieving a Bright and Sunny Future

 Today, FPL is ready to quickly move forward with plans to increase our solar capacity literally fivefold. These projects now on the drawing board would mean cleaner air, energy security for Florida, and more jobs. In fact, as FPL has shown, construction of large-scale solar power creates hundreds of jobs, supports local businesses and generates millions of dollars in new tax revenue for local schools and communities. Solar is an investment in the future of our state, and we think one well worth making.

We believe that’s a good deal for the state of Florida, for our customers, for our nation, and for the future of the solar power industry.

As I shared with participants at SPI today, getting these plans off the drawing boards and into action will require legislative and regulatory support. To grow solar energy in Florida – and to help the Sunshine State live up to its name – FPL will continue working to encourage state leaders to help us move forward quickly. We’ll be letting policymakers know why renewable energy deserves their support, and we’ll be working to let our customers know how they will benefit, too. To learn more about FPL’s renewable energy projects, visit

To hear more from Armando Olivera, play the video below.

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Armando J. Olivera is president and chief executive officer of Florida Power & Light Company, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, Inc., North America’s largest generator of wind and solar power. Armando began his career at FPL in 1972 as an associate engineer and worked in 17 different roles across the company before becoming president and chief executive officer in 2003. Today, under Armando’s leadership, FPL serves 4.5 million customer accounts in Florida with cleaner power, better service reliability and lower bills than the national averages. Armando Olivera was honored with the Utility CEO of the Year award at the 2011 Solar Power International (SPI) trade show and conference on Oct. 19, 2011.

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