Green Building & Sustainable Development
First Solar-Powered City to Fuel Clean Industry, Economic Recovery
Real estate developer Kitson & Partners today 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. With Congress debating energy policy and the economy shedding jobs at a record pace, the Kitson-FPL deal will start the city on a path to create 20,000 permanent jobs.
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. All commercial buildings and homes in the new city will be certified as energy-efficient and constructed according to Florida Green Building Council standards. The City of Babcock Ranch is also a model of conservation: over 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, facilitated by Kitson & Partners.
"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 of the city. "Babcock Ranch will be a living laboratory for companies, workers and families ready to reap the rewards of innovation. No other place in America will be home to such a concentration of new jobs and technologies, energy-saving advances and global economic leadership. I could not be more enthusiastic to be a part of this major step toward economic recovery and a sustainable future."
A recent study conducted by independent research firm Fishkind & Associates found that the city of Babcock Ranch will generate 20,000 permanent jobs across a wide range of industries and income levels, including education, retail, service industries, high technology, administration and manufacturing. Thousands of additional temporary jobs will be created in construction and related fields over the next 20 years.
The city of Babcock Ranch
will ultimately include 6 million square feet of retail, commercial, office, civic and light industrial space. The entire city will be wireless-internet enabled and an ultra-high-capacity digital pipeline will support the use of current and emerging technologies.
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 Company 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. With the continued support of Governor Crist, the Florida Legislature and the Public Service Commission, FPL is prepared to do much more in the coming years to build projects like Babcock Ranch and grow Florida's renewable energy industry."
Representative Tom Rooney (R-FL), in whose district Babcock Ranch is located, joined in praising Kitson & Partners for spurring economic growth in the region.
"This historic announcement will help make Florida the leader in research, development and implementation of renewable energy technologies," said Rep. Rooney. "I am extremely pleased that this project will be coming to Babcock Ranch, right in the heart of the 16th Congressional District. This investment will spur growth and create jobs in our community. 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."
"America is not going to create new jobs, lower energy prices and beat our international competitors by thinking small and doing more of the same," CEO Syd Kitson said. "The smart money is on renewable energy like the sun and wind, efficient materials that cut energy costs and dynamic companies that are innovating. We are building Babcock Ranch as a home base for America's future."
"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 proud of our partnership with Florida Power & Light as a World Wildlife Fund PowerSwitch partner and their strong commitments to combating climate change. 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. "Babcock Ranch has the potential of showing America that you can have a vibrant, prosperous community without sacrificing Florida's clean air and water. Our common fight against climate change will require exactly this kind of large-scale commitment to clean technology and sustainable development. We are proud to support Babcock Ranch as it leads the way in this new direction."
Babcock Ranch will also feature sustainable water management and conservation; street lamps designed to reduce light pollution; electric car chargers; and green roofs that reduce energy loss.
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