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A Solar-Powered Eco-City for 50,000 Breaking Ground in Florida

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The Babcock Ranch development will be primarily powered by a $300 million solar array

Construction is kicking off on a development hoping to become America's first solar-powered city. Located in southwestern Florida just 13 miles from Fort Myers, the under-construction Babcock Ranch development is slated to encompass 19,500 homes, 6 million square feet of retail, and 50,000 inhabitants by the time it's fully finished in roughly 25 years.

And it'll largely be powered by one of the country's largest arrays of photovoltaic panels.

When complete, the 400-acre, $300 million array will produce enough energy to run the town and feed excess power back into the electrical grid. Construction of the $300 million, 75-megawatt power plant started in October, and it should be operational and connected to the energy grid by the end of the year.

Today is the official groundbreaking for the city itself, which is bordered by the 73,000-acre Babcock Ranch Preserve. The brainchild of Florida developers Kitson & Partners, Babcock Ranch will have other eco-themed bells and whistles including Net Zero homes, an integrated water management system, car and bike shares, and electric vehicles, in addition to global access network points for a super-speedy internet connection. Phase I, which will include 1,100 homes, is set to complete in 2017.

Planned entirely from the ground up with sustainability and environmental conservation in mind, over half of city's 17,608 acres will be set aside for parks, greenways, and lakes. The town is also bordered by two wildlife and nature preserves totaling nearly 150,000 acres of protected wilderness.

All systems go for Babcock Ranch [Fort Myers Florida Weekly]

Florida’s Babcock Ranch: First Solar Powered City in U.S. [Florida Forward]