Babcock Ranch calls itself “America’s first solar-powered town.” Its nearby solar array — made up of 700,000 individual panels — generates more electricity than the 2,000-home neighborhood uses.
October 4, 2022

Wow. This story makes me feel hopeful that more well-planned towns can survive major storms. Via CNN:

Anthony Grande moved away from Fort Myers three years ago in large part because of the hurricane risk. He has lived in southwest Florida for nearly 19 years, had experienced Hurricanes Charley in 2004 and Irma in 2017 and saw what stronger storms could do to the coast.

Grande told CNN he wanted to find a new home where developers prioritized climate resiliency in a state that is increasingly vulnerable to record-breaking storm surge, catastrophic wind and historic rainfall.

What he found was Babcock Ranch — only 12 miles northeast of Fort Myers, yet seemingly light years away.

I never even heard of this place until a few days ago, and now I want to do my part in making more people aware of what's possible:

Babcock Ranch calls itself “America’s first solar-powered town.” Its nearby solar array — made up of 700,000 individual panels — generates more electricity than the 2,000-home neighborhood uses, in a state where most electricity is generated by burning natural gas, a planet-warming fossil fuel.

The streets in this meticulously planned neighborhood were designed to flood so houses don’t. Native landscaping along roads helps control storm water. Power and internet lines are buried to avoid wind damage. This is all in addition to being built to Florida’s robust building codes.

Some residents, like Grande, installed more solar panels on their roofs and added battery systems as an extra layer of protection from power outages. Many drive electric vehicles, taking full advantage of solar energy in the Sunshine State.

Hurricane Ian was the real test for the community, though. Nearby Fort Myers and Naples areas were decimated with record-breaking surge and winds over 100 mph. The storm knocked out power to more than 2.6 million customers in the state, including 90% of Charlotte County, where Babcock Ranch is situated.

Guess what? The lights stayed on!

Now, the town isn't cheap. But the more communities that do this, the more cost-saving ideas will be shared.

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