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Thousands of solar panels helping collect energy and power Southwest Florida homes

Posted at 10:11 AM, Apr 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-22 10:11:52-04

IMMOKALEE, Fla. — Today is Earth Day and that means plenty will be doing their part to help the environment.

Florida Power and Light are doing their part with the company’s first solar energy center in Collier County.

"This is just one example of us delivering on our commitment for our customers of building a more resilient and sustainable energy future.”

Sitting on about 600 acres of land in the middle of Immokalee, thousands of solar panels bask under the Floridian sun. Collecting energy that helps power our homes.

"They coexist with the environment so, actually, one of the benefits is that it can sit here and it powers clean, zero emissions energy for our customers and its minimal visual impact," says Jack Eble, FPL spokesperson. "It generates powers without causing a ruckus.”

These panels are strong enough to power 15,000 homes. Construction took about 6-10 months. As easy as they go up, maintaining them is just as clear.

"It’s pretty simple," says Richard Carter, FPL engineer. "Nothing but solar panels, combiner boxes, and inverters. All of this energy is directed back to the grid where it goes to our customers.”

Richard Carter is one of those FPL engineers who overlooks the energy center. He makes it all sound easy but there’s a little more science to it.

“The GE inverter we have here takes the DC energy we have from the field, does pulse width modulation and converts it to AC," he says.

"The solar panels take energy in direct current- DC current," said Eble. "So then you’ll see the boxes behind me there in the middle, the GE ones- those are inverters. So what those inverters do is it takes the DC current and it converts it to alternating current- AC current. And that’s the power that we all know and love in our homes when we plug something into an outlet or turn on our lights.”

The Immokalee solar energy center is just one of 12 centers in Southwest Florida. The impact solar panels like these have on energy savings are being felt quite substantially.

“Over the course of the last 20 years, our transition to clean energy technology has saved customers more than $12.4 billion in fossil fuel costs," Eble said. "It has also helped us avoid more than 183 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.”

And FPL is only getting started. They expect to install 16 million more of these solar panels across the state in the next four years.

“We’re continuing this march. We know the benefits of solar energy. We’re going to continue to invest in solar energy on behalf of our customers because we’ve seen the fuel savings and environmental benefits that it’s brought to communities across the state.”