Babcock Ranch, Florida Makes Solar Power Push
Babcock Ranch, Florida located just 15 miles northeast of Fort Myers, is calling itself the first- solar-powered city in the nation. Syd Kitson, the former NFL player turned Babcock Ranch property manager, plans to eventually power 19,500 homes plus a downtown, schools, restaurants, shopping, and other facilities with solar power.
The homes in Babcock Ranch vary in size and structure and range from $190,000 to over $500,000. All homes include an Alexa-controlled smart home system, fiber internet, electric car charging stations in the garages, and metal roofs to reduce heating and cooling costs. Homeowners also have space to grow their own vegetables, but community gardens are limited to native plants. Homes are not covered in solar panels, because the solar energy is collected and dispersed through a Florida Power and Light (FPL) grid, just like any other neighborhood using energy from other sources.
Residents started moving in last January. Like other subdivisions in Florida, Babcock Ranch integrates residential space with facilities. To date, the community now includes amenities like health and wellness centers, medical offices, a gym and a swimming pool, and a co-working space. A K-8 charter school operates with a STEAM-based curriculum and local restaurants are known for their seed-to-table organic food offerings.
Kitson refers to his community as a “living laboratory” and some environmental scholars believe it is the key to a sustainable future. Urban Land Institute’s Ed McMahon explains: “In the future, we’re going to see almost all of our new developments powered by renewable energy, and to the extent this is a model for the future, especially in Florida, it’s a good thing.”
Solar energy makes a difference all around the world, from communities like Babcock Ranch to individual homeowners. Homeowners who integrate solar energy systems into their homes have an opportunity to save on long-term utility costs. Communities like Babcock Ranch mitigate the cost of installation by providing the solar energy through the existing grid instead of modifying or rebuilding homes.
Before adding a solar energy system to your home, it is best to consult a real estate professional to determine whether or not the installation cost will be offset by future savings. The cost of solar energy, as well as any types of available incentives, depend on the region and type of system integrated.