Florida is becoming the heavyweight solar leader of the Southeast

Courtesy: Image by Sebastian Ganso from Pixabay

Last month, Florida Insider covered a story on how Florida Power and Light Company (FPL), the state’s largest electric power supply and utility company, invested in yet another mega-solar center in Southwest Florida.

Today, we are pleased to report that Florida has moved firmly into first place in the southeast region for solar capacity.

During the pandemic, slow and steady solar distribution across the region allowed Florida to leapfrog North Carolina for the top spot for installed solar capacity.

At a virtual event Wednesday, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) released details on its fourth annual “Solar in the Southeast” report and announced that the Sunshine State had become the region’s “solar leader.” A title fit for the state that proudly wears its “Sunshine” badge.

Lead author of the report and SACE’s Solar Program Director Bryan Jacob announced during the event that “Florida is a bigger state, bigger population, bigger utilities.”

Courtesy: SACE

“They were kind of late to the game, let’s admit that, but they’ve really been coming on strong lately, once the economics shifted to where solar was among the least-cost resources they could be bringing on now,” Jacob added. 

According to Jacob, despite the pandemic’s hit on the distributed solar (ex: rooftop panels) sector, utility-scale solar had a record year.

He added that of all the states in the region, Florida overcame the obstacles quicker and produced some of the highest numbers in the solar sector in 2020.

Courtesy: SACE

“There was a lot of additional momentum in the system in Florida,” he said, likely attributing Florida’s pledge to open early and stay open during the toughest stretches of the pandemic.

By 2030, FPL plans to have roughly 30 million panels installed across the state.

On the other hand, Jacksonville’s city-owned utility (JEA) currently generates 124 solar watts per customer: an estimated one-third of the solar average for Florida utilities, according to SACE’s report.

Clean energy is on the rise, but the only way 100% clean energy can be reached is if both utility-scale and distributed solar are equally emphasized, said Jacob.

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