Florida could soon be home to one of the greenest, and most sustainable cities on the face of the earth; and it is all thanks to an ex-NFL Lineman, and his drive for green perfection. Syd Kitson, a retired NFL lineman who spent his years with the Dallas Cowboys and the, appropriately named, Green Bay Packers, is planning on constructing an entire eco-community in the southwest of Florida. The proposed Babcock Ranch will offer somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 homes, along with a power source big enough to allow residents to forget all their energy consumption troubles; a 75-megawatt photovoltaic plant, nearly twice as large as the current record holder in Germany.
With the help of Florida Power & Light, who will construct the behemoth solar receptacle at about $ 4 million dollars a megawatt, Babcock Ranch foresees homeowners paying roughly 31 cents per month in home utility costs. The panels will eventually sit on 4 acres of land, and cost approximately $300 million to construct.
This plan is becoming more than just a pipe dream, as Kitson has already purchased the 18,000 acres needed for the land, and has garnered the rights to build on it. A deal was struck with then Governor Jeb Bush in 2006 that allowed Kitson to purchase land from the government that they had purchased in order to preserve some of the most environmentally sensitive areas of the state.
However, the commendations for the Florida State Government should not begin just yet, as an important energy bill has been stalled in the state House of Representatives that is vital for the production of solar arrays of any size. This delay does not change the long term drive of the members of the Babcock Ranch development group, but does decrease the chances that ground can be broken for the massive solar array before the year is out.
In an ideal world, where Kitson’s proposals are translated into bounteous and utopic living for a rather large community, Babcock Ranch will offer something the rest of the state of Florida has yet to provide: shopping and entertainment options within walking distance! Many in Florida blame congestion and excessive traffic on the lack of roads throughout the area, but Kitson believes the true problem is the lack of city planners banking on Americans willing to walk or bike to destinations. And for those residents who would still rather hum around in an automobile, the city will feature electric cars and community energy receptacles for hybrid plug-ins throughout the city.
The city will utilize the solar panels to power everything from homes, to the magnet school, to the street lamps. Babcock Ranch will also rely on smart-grid technologies that can look after and manage energy use, which can also be offered to home owners to make their homes as efficient as possible. They also expect the revolutionary nature of this project to attract businesses from all sectors, but especially the sustainable industry, which will provide well-paying jobs for Floridians who are brave enough to join the most environmentally friendly city on the face of the earth. Florida Tax Watch is a Tallahassee-based fiscal watchdog, and they project that simply building and maintaining the 4 acre solar array will create 100,000 lucrative jobs on its own.
And as for Kitson, whose goals are much akin to many others in the green movement; to reduce carbon emissions, oil dependence and energy bills; it’s pretty simple, “Some people think I got hit in the head a few too many times. But I still believe deeply in Florida. And the time has come for something completely different.”
It is a long and hard journey to accomplish something that is truly groundbreaking, and if Mr. Kitson and his cohorts can power a budding American city with only the energy from the sun, it would certainly be a revolutionary feat.