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Utility Dive: Florida Signs off on FPL's 1.5 GW Community Solar Program

Posted by Iulia Gheorghiu on Mar 4, 2020

Utility Dive covered unanimous approval of FPL's new customer-driven solar energy program and tariff by the Florida Public Service Commission, quoting AEE's Dylan Reed and Caitlin Marquis. Read excerpts below and the entire UD piece here

The Florida Public Service Commission unanimously approved a 1,490 MW community solar program by Florida Power & Light, the largest in the nation, on Tuesday. FPL's "SolarTogether" program reserves 75% for the commercial and industrial (C&I) sector and 25% for the residential sector. The project more than doubles community solar capacity in the U.S., according to FPL. 

The community solar program is expected online by mid-2021 and will include 20 solar projects around 74.5 MW each, below the 75 MW threshold that would require more regulatory oversight and competitive procurement of the plants. 

Renewable advocates praised the development, but some groups were disappointed to see the entire 1,490 MW project would be built by the utility. In the U.S., a few green tariff programs have included solar capacity not developed by the utility but bought from a third party, according to Solar Energy Industries Association VP of state affairs Sean Gallagher.

"Opening [the program] up for competitive procurement has a positive aspect on pricing," Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) Director Dylan Reed said...

Solar Together is the first large community solar program that focuses on C&I and residential. The program has received interest from more than 150,000 residential and business customers to offset up to 100% of their electricity use with solar, according to FPL. In the past, solar subscription programs, or green tariff programs, "have been sized too small to meet [C&I] demand," Caitlin Marquis, Advanced Energy Economy director, told Utility Dive.

Georgia Power proposed a 1,000 MW program, which is still pending before state regulators, that is smaller than the 1,117 MW portion of FPL's SolarTogether reserved for C&I alone, according to Marquis. The next largest green tariff program is Duke Energy's 600 MW program in North Carolina, while other programs have ranged from 50 to 400 MW, she said.

In Florida, demand in both C&I and the residential sectors is expected to grow, making the market ripe for similar solar offerings, according to clean energy groups. Renewable energy demand for large C&I users is expected to grow in the state from 3.14 GW to 6.75 GW by 2030, according to a WoodMackenzie report prepared for AEE, "Opportunities for Meeting Commercial and Industrial Demand for Renewable Energy in Florida."

The commission's unanimous approval "sets the stage for other utilities in the state," AEE's Reed told Utility Dive. Duke Energy's Florida subsidiary and TECO Energy are expected to consider similar offerings for their customers, taking advantage of the same state incentives as FPL to increase solar energy capacity...

Read the entire UD piece here

Topics: AEE In The News