Frequently Asked Questions

We are committed to providing relevant and factual information based on research and insights from the dozens of solar energy centers we operate across the state of Florida. Find answers to your questions about this clean, American-made source of energy.

What is solar energy used for?

Once converted into electricity, solar energy is used in homes and businesses just like electricity from any energy source. The electricity generated at FPL solar energy centers becomes another source of energy on the grid, benefitting all of the company's customers.

How is solar energy harvested?

As sunlight hits the approximately 250,000 solar panels at a solar energy center, the energy from the sun is converted into direct current electricity. Each row of panels is connected by positive and negative wires to small combiner boxes that allow each row to act as one larger unit. From there, the energy travels to inverters where it is converted from direct current energy into alternating current energy.

The zero-emissions electricity travels through a series of electrical transformers and the electricity’s voltage is boosted for delivery onto the electric grid for use in homes and businesses.

We invest in solar energy centers around the state in both Eastern and Central time zones, which allows us to generate maximum output during daylight hours – even on days when portions of the state may have intermittent cloud cover.

What are some advantages of solar energy?

After the initial investment in solar-energy equipment and the construction of the solar energy center, the costs to operate the site are minimal since the sun provides free “fuel.” These facilities are not affected by the supply and demand of fuel or subject to price volatility, and solar energy can help reduce America’s dependence on foreign sources of energy. Solar energy is also clean and renewable, which helps protect our environment.

Are solar energy centers good for the environment and human health?

Yes. Solar energy emits no pollutants and generates zero emissions. To learn more, view our solar environment page.

Is rooftop solar a better alternative than solar energy centers for FPL customers?

Part of our commitment to delivering a clean, reliable, and affordable energy future means making solar energy accessible to all our customers, and our goal is to significantly expand access to solar energy in the most cost-effective way possible.

While private solar generation has played an important role in helping Floridians generate solar for their individual homes through the use of rooftop panels, our solar energy centers are helping us bring solar energy to all customers without sacrificing affordability or reliability. FPL customers can rely on these solar energy centers to reduce the company's already low fuel costs and add more emissions-free solar generation to our energy mix.

That being said, FPL supports private solar and continues to work with customers who choose it. That involves working with customers and their installers to ensure the safe interconnection of their systems. Additionally, we provide online tools, including an energy dashboard where they can see how much solar they are selling back to FPL and how much they are buying from FPL when their solar installation is not able to generate enough power to meet their energy demands, such as on cloudy days and at night. 

How long will it take to complete construction?

Once construction begins, six to 10 months is a reasonable time frame to build most solar energy centers.

Do solar energy centers pose fire hazards?

No. Safety is our first consideration at FPL, which is why we take measures to ensure the safe operation of our generation facilities. This includes partnering closely with local fire departments and emergency responders to provide training and education on the equipment used within our solar sites and to ensure they are well prepared to respond in the unlikely event of an emergency.

Each solar energy center is monitored 24/7 from our Renewable Operation Control Center (ROCC) and incorporates several fire prevention planning and countermeasures, including the development of a wildfire mitigation plan and smart software and drones to proactively identify equipment failures or electrical issues to prevent any fire. Additionally, a local employee is regularly onsite to conduct inspections and complete planned maintenance. 

Solar panel racking structures are made from galvanized steel, which contain zinc. Does zinc have harmful effects on human health?

No. Zinc is commonly referred to as a “healthy metal” and is a natural element found at various levels in the soil and everyday products from drinking water and chocolate to breakfast cereal and milk.1

For background, the steel used in the construction of certain parts of a solar energy center is galvanized, a process by which the steel is immersed in molten zinc to prevent corrosion. Galvanized steel is extremely common and has been in widespread global use for many construction applications, bridges, most road signs, and chain-link fencing for decades.

While zinc from galvanized steel can transfer into soil, the transfer usually takes place over a period of 75 years or more and is typically confined to the structure’s immediate area.2 According to a study published in Environmental Science & Technology, up to 90% of transferred zinc is typically “biologically unavailable” due to pH levels in the soil.3 In other words, it can’t be absorbed by organisms, is rendered harmless, and will eventually be redistributed in the soil through natural processes.

Are solar energy centers noisy?

No. In most cases, solar energy centers are set back from residential areas behind native vegetation and operate in virtual silence even during mid-day, full-sun operation. A series of noise studies conducted by Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc. (ECT) between 20184 and 20205 confirmed the quiet nature of clean-energy solar energy centers. These studies showed that at various property boundary locations, noise levels are consistent with the ambient noise of the neighborhood, and, at a distance of 120 feet, noise levels are comparable to a quiet office or library.

Could this solar project increase the temperature of neighboring land?

To our knowledge and based on observations from our operating sites, none of our dozens of solar energy centers across the state of Florida have experienced any issues related to a change in temperatures. Multiple studies6,7,8 have concluded that the potential increase in air temperature associated with photovoltaic solar panels is limited to the space directly above, and in very close proximity to, the solar arrays. Any increase quickly dissipates within 100 feet from the solar site, and the temperature of neighboring land is not impacted.

If I have land and want FPL to assess its suitability for a solar project, how do I contact the company to evaluate it?

While we cannot guarantee that we will assess every parcel of land presented to us, you can contact us for more information.

1 FDA 2003a 21 CFR 165.110; USDA SR-21, http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/breakfast-cereals/1686/2http://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/zinc.php

2 Zinc in the Environment, International Zinc Association, pg. 2

3 Smolders E, Degryse F. 2002. Fate and Effect of Zinc from Tire Debris in Soil, Environ. Sci. Technol. 36:3706-3710

4 “Noise Measurements for Single-Axis Tracking Facility,” Environmental Consulting Technology, Inc. (ECT), 2018

5 “Noise Study for several Florida Solar Centers,” Environmental Consulting Technology, Inc. (ECT), 2020

6 Barron-Gafford Research Group, 2016: How far does an increase in air temperature reach? Unpublished data.

Demirezen, E., B. G. Akinoglu, and T. Ozden, 2018: Impacts of a Photovoltaic Power Plant for Possible Heat Island Effect, International Conference on Photovoltaic Science and Technologies, Ankara, Turkey, July 2018.Available at https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/8523937

8 Broadbent, A. M., E. S. Krayenhoff, M. Georgescu, D. J. Sailor, 2019: The Observed Effects of Utility-Scale Photovoltaics on Near-Surface Air Temperature and Energy Balance. J. Appl. Meteorol. Climatol., 58, 989-1006.Available at https://journals.ametsoc.org/jamc/article/58/5/989/345/The-Observed-Effects-of-Utility-Scale

1 FDA 2003a 21 CFR 165.110; USDA SR-21

2 Zinc in the Environment, International Zinc Association, pg. 2

3 Smolders E, Degryse F. 2002. Fate and Effect of Zinc from Tire Debris in Soil, Environ. Sci. Technol. 36:3706-3710

4 “Noise Measurements for Single-Axis Tracking Facility,” Environmental Consulting Technology, Inc. (ECT), 2018

5 “Noise Study for several Florida Solar Centers,” Environmental Consulting Technology, Inc. (ECT), 2020

6 Barron-Gafford Research Group, 2016: How far does an increase in air temperature reach? Unpublished data.

Demirezen, E., B. G. Akinoglu, and T. Ozden, 2018: Impacts of a Photovoltaic Power Plant for Possible Heat Island Effect, International Conference on Photovoltaic Science and Technologies, Ankara, Turkey, July 2018.

8 Broadbent, A. M., E. S. Krayenhoff, M. Georgescu, D. J. Sailor, 2019: The Observed Effects of Utility-Scale Photovoltaics on Near-Surface Air Temperature and Energy Balance. J. Appl. Meteorol. Climatol., 58, 989-1006.