Babcock Ranch, FPL unveil Solar Ranch Eco-Discovery Center – Gulfshore Business

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Babcock Ranch and Florida Power & Light executives provided a sneak peek at the new Solar Ranch Eco-Discovery Center on April 22.  

The 2,500squarefoot Eco-Discovery Center, 8500 State Road 31 in Punta Gorda, opens to the public May 1 and showcases advantages of clean and solar energy. 

The free educational facility for children and adults has interactive games and exhibits. 


One display teaches how solar panels are made. They are mostly made of silica sandthe second most abundant substance on earth, next to oxygen. The melted sand is then made into glass and silicon ingots. The silicon is sliced thin and bonded to the glass to make a solar panel. 

In addition to learning about solar energy, visitors also will learn about battery storage, which helps extend the benefits of solar even when the sun isn’t shining. 

Drivers will be able to test their electric vehicle driving skills in a Roblox-powered game, which illustrates the benefits of electric vehicles and charging options for FPL customers at home and on the road. 

Next to the Eco-Discovery Center is a three-story tower with accessible ramps. From the top, one gets a bird’s eye view of the size of Babcock Ranch and Babcock Preserve Solar Energy Centers. Combined, they feature 687,000 panels that help deliver energy to the Babcock Ranch community and all FPL customers. 

Babcock Ranch Solar Ranch Eco-Discovery CenterBabcock Ranch was started in 2017 and founded on the philosophy that smart growth and sustainability can work hand in hand.  

The town, built on pasture, farm and rock mined land, is planned for 19,500 residences and 6 million square feet of commercial space. 

Surrounded by forests and green spaces, neighborhoods, referred to as villages, were planned to be walkable and each was planned to have its own amenities, including community pools and tennis courts.  

Half of the town’s footprint has been set aside for recreation with greenways, parks and expansive lakes. 

Babcock Ranch founder and Kitson & Partners CEO Syd Kitson had a vision to create a community focused on eight core pillars—environment, health, education, energy, technology, transportation, recreation and storm safety.  

In addition, Babcock Ranch has become a living laboratory for entrepreneurs and businesses to test and learn new products, services and ideas. 

This month, Money named Babcock Ranch one of the nation’s 50 best places to live, coming in at No. 6.  

The magazine touted Babcock Ranch’s self-sufficiency and resilience to storms, even during Hurricane Ian, which caused only a few downed trees and missing shingles on some rooftops.  

No one lost power during the storm, as solar power kept lights and air-conditioning units on. And there was no flooding due to the community’s inland location, 30-foot elevation and massive retaining ponds and streets that allow for drainage. 

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