ST. LUCIE COUNTY— What once was a citrus grove in western St. Lucie County soon could become Florida Power & Light Co.’s fourth solar center here.
FPL plans to build a 74.5 megawatt solar center on 483 acres 1 mile west of the Glades Cut-Off Road and Carlton Road intersection.
The Sundew Solar Energy Center would create clean, renewable energy, using solar panels to convert sunlight into zero-emission electricity.
The sun’s energy would flow to a power inverter, be converted into electricity and be sent to FPL’s power grid through a transformer system.
FPL anticipates it would install about 300,000 solar panels on site, according to spokesperson Alyssa Ten Eyck.
“The solar center will produce enough zero-emission electricity to power 15,000 homes annually,” said Scott Sole, senior project manager for the proposed solar center, at a county Planning and Zoning Commission meeting in February. “It’s the electrical equivalent of taking about 14,000 cars off the road every year.”
The Planning and Zoning Commission approved the proposal Feb. 18, and the County Commission unanimously approved it Tuesday.
Sundew Solar Energy Center is part of FPL’s plan to install more than 30 million solar panels around the state by 2030, making it a world leader in solar-energy production.
Since 2001, FPL’s program to phase out older, oil-fired power plants and replace them with highly efficient clean-energy centers has reduced its reliance on foreign oil by more than 99 percent, saved FPL customers more than $9.5 billion in fuel costs and prevented 120 million tons of carbon emissions from being produced, the company said in a a news release at the outset of its solar-energy initiative.
Sundew Solar Energy Center would join three others in St. Lucie County.
FPL’s Loggerhead Solar Center, about 7 miles west of the Tradition neighborhood in Port St. Lucie, opened in 2018. The Interstate Solar Center, next to Interstate 95 and near Indrio Road, opened in 2019. Another solar center at the county’s northern line, the Pelican Solar facility, is under construction.
FPL has 33 solar centers throughout the state. Of those, five are on the Treasure Coast with others under construction.
Construction would take an estimated nine months and create about 200 construction jobs, Sole said. FPL hopes the Sundew Solar Center is operational by 2022, Ten Eyck said.
Olivia McKelvey is TCPalm’s watchdog reporter for St. Lucie County. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, 772-521-4380 and on Twitter @olivia_mckelvey.