FPL opens Ibis Solar Energy Center in Palm Bay – Hometown News

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PALM BAY — Florida Power & Light has opened its new Ibis Solar Energy Center just north of the Brevard/Indian River County Line, roughly three miles west of Babcock Street in Palm Bay.

Ibis, which opened in January according to FPL spokesperson Marshall Hastings, features close to 200,000 solar panels over what is roughly a 400-acre property. Ibis is the fifth solar energy facility constructed in Brevard, according to a release.

Hastings also indicated that the energy being generated at the center is enough to power 15,000 homes and has a 74.5 megawatt capacity.

“It’s powering the entire state, so that’s why we’ve invested in solar facilities. Not only in one portion of the state, but from the panhandle, to Miami, to Jacksonville, to Fort Myers, because it’s a beautiful day right now in Brevard County,” he said. “It could be cloudy up in Jacksonville, or it could be cloudy in Miami, so the energy generated here, think of it like a pool. If you were at the deep end of the pool and you had a cup of water and you poured it in, those water molecules are probably going to go in that immediate area, but they can make their way all around that pool. They can go out to the shallow end.”

Hastings discussed the process by which the solar energy center operates.

“The way a solar facility works is it takes the power of the sun, that DC current, and it goes through facilities on site, known as inverters. That converts it to AC current, and that’s the current that we use in our homes and businesses. It transfers it from the solar site itself to our substation on site, and that puts it up on to our transmission lines that head out to the surrounding community and the state as a whole,” he said.

Hastings also said that since FPL has started constructing solar facilities, it has saved customers statewide “around $900 million in avoided fuel costs because these (solar panels) are not needing fuel to operate.”

Construction began on the facility last summer.

“During the peak of construction, it brings in about 200 jobs, and that’s work from putting the posts into the ground, to putting in the panels, to running the electrical wiring. After the project is complete, these sites are generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax revenue annually that’s going directly to the county. It’s then used at the county’s discretion from infrastructure, schools, emergency services, things like that,” Hastings said.

Another solar facility is slated to be constructed adjacent to the facility soon, Hastings added.

“We have one site, Fox Trail, which has been approved through the county that we’re expecting to begin construction in 2025,” Hastings said. “It won’t be carbon copy in terms of the footprint of it, but it’s going to do the same exact thing. It’s going to be 74.5 megawatts of electricity for our customers.”

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