After Hurricane Ian, John and Rich and I wondered how the massive solar farms held up in Florida. I forget how many Rich calculated were in the path, but it involved millions of panels. Florida Power and Light has said nothing that I have heard on the subject. Yeah, they were busy restoring power. I get it, but seems like they’d like to brag if it went well.
A story came out on a community called Babcock Ranch. They bill themselves as being America’s First Solar Town. The gist of it was that this is a solar powered town with its own solar farm. Houses were all built to or beyond Florida’s strict building code. Lines are underground, so there is nothing to blow down. Special attention was paid to drainage, so the town did not flood, even though it is just a few miles from ground zero. Damage, they say, was limited some lost shingles and the lights never went out.
Well, that sounds great, but nobody gave any details on the solar…like how big the battery bank is. I thought that was suspicious. Turns out, the story was a bit of an exaggeration. They are NOT solar powered, though some homes and businesses have their own panels. They are directly powered off the FPL grid. The solar farm provides much of the power by day and a gas plant provides power at night. The solar farm and a substation are right at the town and with no exposed lines there was nothing to break. I would guess they are not far from the power plant either.
Watching FPL build two solar farms near my place I have noted that the panel mounts are well planted and they are using some serious concrete poles for the main transmission lines. Apparently this transmission upgrade is widespread because FPL got most of the lights back on very quickly after Ian passed.
I am all for solar saving the day, but geez, don’t just make stuff up! Tell us real stories.