Florida solar energy now powers the Daytona 500 in the Sunshine State. Over 250,000 fans will migrate to Daytona to hear those famous words — Drivers, start your engines! The Daytona 500 is one of if not the highest profile race in NASCAR and the $400 million Daytona Rising project now hosts highly visible solar energy canopy installations that are a great example of Florida solar energy at work. But — will Florida’s largest utility use those canopies to throw shade on the solar industry not just the crowd.
High profile large installations highlight the benefit of Florida solar energy. Daytona will bring over 250,000 eyeballs on Florida solar energy and that is good for solar. Additionally, Daytona now joins the long list of sports venues and corporations highlighted in the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) report entitled Solar Means Business to bring large scale solar to over 30 million people.
Nextera Energy keeps Florida motorsports clean
NextEra Energy, through its subsidaries, Florida Power & Light (FPL) and Nextera Energy Resources, has a long history powering the Florida’s motorsports industry. NextEra Energy Resources is the official renewable energy provider to Daytona International Speedway and Homestead Miami. They have provided carbon offsets for races primarily generated by wind and solar farms they own outside of Florida.
They are the official sponsor of the Nextera Energy Resources 250 truck series race at Daytona. In 2010 they provided sponsorship for Leilani Munter, a self proclaimed vegan hippie chick with a race car, to run her ARCA debut at Daytona qualifying alongside Danica Patrick (and it was awesome). Now, on any day of the week, you can find Leilani relentlessly campaigning for rooftop solar rights, clean energy, environmental issues and animal rights. In Miami, the country’s very first electric vehicle race, Formula-E was sponsored not by Tesla Motors but by NextEra Energy Resources.
FPL “Loves” Solar with a twist
They are also a big fan of self promoting high profile Florida solar energy development. Zoos, sports venues, museums and libraries now host FPL solar canopies. Ask any FPL and Nextera executive how they feel about solar and you will get the same answer, “We love solar”. It’s what follows that statement – an atypical, anti-customer choice script that is designed to please analysts, investors, bond raters and Wall Street – is what gives the solar industry advocates indigestion and gives private industry reason for concern, but it always starts the same, “We love solar”.
FPL solar canopies may throw shade on Florida solar energy
The over 7,000 solar panels installed at Daytona, while providing shade, should also motivate those folks standing under them to get a quote for Florida solar energy on their own home or business. Of FPL’s 4.5 million customers only 3,000 have taken the initiative to install home solar panels or business solar panels.
More businesses and people move to Florida every year for the business friendly environment and spilling solar energy (sunshine) than have actually gone solar. Even with one of the best, customer focused, net-metering rules in the country – today — solar is of no threat to FPL’s local business or customers for that matter.
Unfortunately, that has not stopped FPL from funding anti-solar political campaigns or making filings to the state’s regulator aimed at increasing the cost of going solar to its customers or using the private data they collect from these high profile installations to attempt to strip away customer access to solar.
That said, we love solar. More high profile Florida solar energy installations are good for the state, the environment and business, but it’s not always sunshine and smiles when it comes to FPL and its customer’s rights to choose solar for themselves. FPL’s investment in Florida solar energy could also be their way of taking away the rights of their customers to choose rooftop solar, but until then, we support their efforts to bring more solar to Floridians.
Oh — and let’s go Dale Jr!