Babcock Ranch: The World’s First Solar City?


Florida Power & Light Co. is spending $350 million to build a 75 megawatt solar photovoltaic plant–the largest photovoltaic project ever announced–to completely power the planned city of Babcock Ranch, a 17,000 acre community of homes, offices, and factories near Fort Myers, Florida.

Babcock Ranch could be the ideal place to test the promise of the smart grid (although not the first place, that distinction is likely to go to Boulder, Colorado). Kitson & Partners, the project’s developers, envision a town where “Electric vehicles, able to plug in for recharge at convenient
community-wide recharging stations, will glide along avenues beneath
the glow of solar-powered street lamps. Ingenious, revolutionary Smart
Grid technologies will monitor and manage energy use while Smart Home
technology will allow residents to operate their homes at maximum
efficiency, thereby reducing energy costs.” This is, of course, assuming that resident of Babcock Ranch will all opt to purchase PHEVs. But I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to think that people who choose to live in the first solar-powered city will also own energy-efficient vehicles.

Kitson & Partners is so confident that the community will attract buyers that it is spending $2 billion to build 19,500 homes as well as 6 million square feet of retail and industrial space. The company hasn’t provided specific information about housing prices, but assures that the homes will be available for people across the economic spectrum.

If all goes as planned, Kitson & Partners will break ground on the community next year. It’s success will probably hinge on whether the development can fulfill its promise of producing 20,000 permanent jobs over 20 years. If it can’t, Babcock Ranch will end up as just another Florida retirement community.

[Via Babcock Ranch]