FPL’s “30 x 30” reaches Kennedy Space Center

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Another addition to Florida Power and Light’s (FPL) “30 x 30” plan is on the way, as the company has released plans for a 74.5 MW, $100 million solar plant across the street from the visitor’s center at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC).

The area is familiar territory for FPL, which has the 10 MW Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center at KSC, as well as a 1 MW solar installation as part of a public-private partnership between NASA and FPL.

However, no two FPL projects are exactly alike and each come with their own share of challenges. For this new project, dubbed the Discovery Solar Energy Center, additional permits will be required, as the sire plans sit on 40 acres of wetlands, some of which will have to be filled in to house the installation.

Image: Florida Power and Light

FPL has already submitted applications to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fill in the wetlands, and the public has until August 29 to file comments regarding this permit. While the idea of filling in wetlands to provide land for a renewable energy project sounds counterproductive in nature, the  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has chimed in on the issue, providing clarity.

In an opinion delivered at the end of 2018, the Fish and Wildlife service found the project

“Is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the eastern indigo snake or the Florida scrub jay and will not result in destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat.”

The project will require clearing of some Brazilian pepper and sparse cabbage palm, however much of the vegetation on that specific acre is already dead or dying, so the overall environmental health impact is expected to be minimal. In the past, FPL has taken measures to enhance environmentally sensitive project areas by adding features like pollinators or bat boxes. While there’s no indication that this project will feature any of those environmental enhancements, it is still very early in development, so their inclusion is by no means unlikely.

Should the project be approved and completed, it will become the 19th solar power plant operated by FPL.