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Hurricane Ian Barely Affects Solar Community in Florida

  • 1.  Hurricane Ian Barely Affects Solar Community in Florida

    BPA Staff Member
    Posted 10-14-2022 09:40

    by Ryan Kennedy

    Hurricane Ian was almost a Category 5 storm when it made landfall near Fort Meyers, Florida. Babcock Ranch, a community just 12 miles from Fort Meyers, found itself directly in the path of the storm.

    The storm brought record-breaking storm surges and sustained winds above 100 mph. More than 2.6 million Florida customers were left without power. 

    Despite the widespread destruction, Babcock Ranch, a planned community of more than 2,000 homes, retained power throughout the entire storm, reports CNN. It is often a given conclusion that power will be lost during extreme weather events, but Babcock Ranch has a model that bucks the centralized natural gas-burning energy model that serves much of the Sunshine State. The community is 100% powered by solar. 

    A 75 MW solar facility powers the planned community, with 700,000 panels delivering clean energy to its residents. It is connected by a small distribution system of wires buried beneath the ground, thereby avoiding outages from downed wires. The ranch also designed streets as floodways, planted native species to control flooding, and exceeded robust Florida building codes when it was planned and built in 2018. 

    Many residents also installed their own rooftop solar panels and batteries for increased resiliency and extended backup power. Electric vehicles are driven by many of its residents, and sustainability and climate resilience are core to Babcock Ranch's identity. 

    Continue reading on the BPA Journal

    Macie Melendez
    Editor in Chief, Building Performance Journal
    Building Performance Association
    Moon Township PA