Babcock Ranch Nation’s First Solar City

Babcock RanchPORT CHARLOTTE – Real estate developer Kitson & Partners announced a landmark agreement with electric utility Florida Power & Light to build the world’s largest solar photovoltaic power plant at Babcock Ranch, Florida, making it the world’s first city powered by solar energy.

The 17,000-acre city of Babcock Ranch will consume less power than the proposed FPL on-site solar facilities will produce, allowing it to become the first city on earth powered by zero-emission solar energy. The city of Babcock Ranch will also be home to an integrated “smart grid” that will provide greater efficiencies and allow residents and businesses to monitor and control their energy consumption.

Half of its 17,000 acres will be permanently protected as greenways and open space, and the city is adjacent to the 73,000-acre Babcock Ranch Preserve. The Babcock Ranch Preserve was created by the largest-ever completed conservation purchase by the state of Florida.

“I believe clean energy and sustainable development are the future of the American economy,” said Syd Kitson, chairman and CEO of Kitson & Partners, the Palm Beach Gardens, Florida-based developer. “Babcock Ranch will be a living laboratory for companies, workers and families ready to reap the rewards of innovation.”

Groundbreaking This Year

Subject to State of Florida approvals, groundbreaking on the FPL solar facility is targeted for late 2009, with construction of the city center targeted for mid-2010 and construction of the first residential and commercial buildings targeted for late 2010.

Florida Power & Light Chief Development Officer Eric Silagy joined Kitson and others at the announcement.

“We are extremely excited to build one of the world’s largest solar photovoltaic projects once the state legislative and regulatory authorities have taken the actions that would be required for us to move forward,” said Silagy. “FPL has secured the necessary land, local zoning and transmission access for a 75 megawatt project and could move forward with construction as early as the end of the year pending such approvals. We believe large-scale solar projects like Babcock Ranch can yield significant environmental benefits to the people of Florida, create sustainable job growth and stimulate the local economy.”

Representative Tom Rooney (R-FL), in whose district Babcock Ranch is located, joined the ceremony.

“This historic announcement will help make Florida the leader in research, development and implementation of renewable energy technologies,” said Rep. Rooney. “We all know fossil fuels will not last forever and we must start developing more alternative and renewable forms of energy. I look forward to working with all parties on this project, and this is truly a great day for Southwest Florida.”

Eco-Folks Support

“Audubon has supported the concept behind Babcock Ranch since day one because of Kitson & Partners’ dedication to conservation,” said National Audubon Society COO Bob Perciasepe. “Kitson & Partners have taken on great challenges to preserve an uninterrupted portion of the Florida landscape, and demonstrated that Babcock Ranch will be able to function like no other modern city – in balance with the natural world around it.”

A native landscaping program will cultivate plants and other crops on-site for landscaping use within Babcock Ranch, reducing the demand for water and eliminating the need to ship these products in from far-away locations. The city layout is also designed with over 40 miles of walkable paths and bikeable streets, to create a short, green commute to work.

“There is an urgent need for the private sector, electric utilities and government at every level to recognize and address the causes and impacts of climate change,” said Richard Moss, Vice President and Managing Director for Climate Change at the World Wildlife Fund. “Renewable energy, smart grid technology, and energy efficiency are crucial to this effort. Under Governor Crist’s leadership, the State of Florida has been a leader in encouraging these technologies by establishing aggressive greenhouse gas reduction targets, including pursuing a statewide Renewable Portfolio Standard and a carbon cap-and-trade program. We are encouraged to see these commitments continue and expand as part of the Babcock Ranch project.”

Kate Johnson, National Clean Energy Representative for the Sierra Club, stressed the project’s potential to influence other U.S. cities. “Now is the time to rethink how we can make development work for everyone,” said Johnson.

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