Florida Power & Light has bought about 7,000 acres of land along the Gulf Coast — deals that closed just weeks before its parent company’s CFO told investors the energy giant expects to spend billions on its solar infrastructure in the coming years.
The purchases were made in Manatee and Collier counties, and total 16 full parcels and portions of three others. County court and property records show the company spent $30 million for 3,400 acres in Myakka City, Manatee County, on June 15 and $40.5 million for about 3,177 acres in Immokalee, Collier County, on June 30.
Officials with FPL, which has about 5.8 million customers across Florida, are mum on what its intentions are for these particular parcels. But plans submitted to the Florida Public Service Commission earlier this year and the executive’s comments on an earnings call in late July, point to the possibility, if not likelihood, that at least some of the recently purchased land could be used as part of FPL’s expansion of its solar capabilities.
Keith Crews, CFO of FPL’s parents company, Juno Beach-based NextEra Energy, said in a July 25 earnings call that FPL “expects to add roughly 3,100 megawatts of incremental solar through 2025” and to continue making capital investments in solar of between $32 billion to $34 billion.
“Of that total, we anticipate investing approximately $10 billion in new solar generation and approximately $14 (billion) to $16 billion in transmission and distribution infrastructure,” Crew told investors. “We remain confident in our total capital plan through 2025, as our cumulative capital investments of approximately $14.7 billion through June of 2023 are a little ahead of our original timeline.”
As for the specific land purchases in Myakka City and Immokalee, company spokeswoman Florencia Olivera says in a July 27 email that “FPL does not discuss the specific terms and conditions, either individually or collectively, of any land purchase agreements out of respect for the confidentiality provisions that are in each of these agreements.”
But the company’s “Ten Year Power Plant Site Plan: 2023-2032,” submitted in April to the Florida Public Service Commission, says it has several solar facilities in the works in Manatee and is considering one in Collier.
According to the report, FPL is building three solar facilities in Manatee County: the Long Creek Solar Energy Center on 1,236 acres; the Three Creeks Solar Energy Center on 700 acres; and the Sambucus Solar Energy Center on 482 acres. Three Creeks and Sambucus have field construction start dates set for this year, the report states. Long Creek has a construction start date of 2024.
There could be a fourth Manatee project as well. FPL lists the Flatford Solar Energy Center in the county on a list of potential sites, though it does not provide specifics.
The potential sites list also included a facility to be named the Boardwalk Solar Energy Center in Collier. The company says this center “is under evaluation for future” installation of solar panels.
FPL currently has 65 solar centers in operation after opening two — one each in Bay and Washington counties — earlier this year. It has opened about 15 solar centers overall this year.
FPL’s net income for the second quarter was $1.15 billion, up xx% from $989 million during the same period last year. The company says it added 225 megawatts of solar power in the quarter, bringing the total of solar additions this year to nearly 1,200 megawatts.
In the earnings statement, NextEra Energy says that “FPL is executing its well-established capital investment plan for the benefit of customers, with a focus on deploying cost-effective solar and improving reliability through our investments in our transmission and distribution system.”