Florida Power & Light (FPL) submitted a proposal for consideration by the Florida Public Service Commission for a pilot program that would ask utility customers to voluntarily contribute to new solar infrastructure.
If approved, FPL customers will have the opportunity to contribute to advancing solar power in Florida for $9 a month. During the next three years, FPL projects the program could support the construction of as many as 25 commercial-scale, distributed solar arrays – each roughly 10 to 15 times larger than a typical residential rooftop installation – for an estimated total of up to 2,400 kW, depending on customer participation.
The pilot program is expected to begin accepting voluntary customer contributions in 2015. FPL plans to provide the initial necessary funding so that the installation of at least the first two to five solar arrays can begin in early 2015, in anticipation of receiving sufficient funding from customers. The arrays will be constructed by local, Florida-based solar installers selected through a competitive bid process.
As an incentive during the three-year pilot, the charitable foundation of FPL’s parent company, NextEra Energy, will contribute a total of $200,000 a year on behalf of the program to Florida-based non-profit organizations and local chapters of national non-profits dedicated to environmental protection and community development.
In terms of the voluntary donations to solar, FPL said in its announcement, “Key to its design, and unlike current solar rebate programs, the pilot will not increase electric bills for customers who choose not to participate.”
On a darker note though, FPL’s announcement added a comment about energy efficiency: “All customers bear the cost of PSC-mandated energy-efficiency programs, whether they use them or not, so it’s important we take a close look at them through the regulatory process.”