First residents move to solar-powered Babcock Ranch

The 18,000-acre town unfolding northeast of Fort Myers will run on solar power from a 440-acre field of photovoltaic panels

Babcock Ranch's photovoltaic solar power-generation field
Babcock Ranch's photovoltaic solar power-generation field

Residents this month started to move into newly built houses at Babcock Ranch, a solar-powered town unfolding northeast of Fort Myers.

Spanning 18,000 acres, Babcock Ranch is expected to  have 19,500 homes and a population of 50,000 residents within 25 years.

The town’s developer, Syd Kitson, CEO of Palm Beach Gardens-based Kitson + Partners, says Babcock Ranch has a 440-acre photovoltaic solar-power generation field, one of the world’s largest, built in partnership with Florida Power & Light. Babcock Ranch also will feature self-driving electrical buses, which are undergoing test runs in the center of the town.

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Kitson bought 91,000 acres for the Babcock Ranch development in 2006, and since then, he has sold 73,000 acres to the state for preservation.

The town started to take shape since the completion of construction of several commercial buildings in the town square, plus the first wave of new homes. [Fort Myers News-Press] — Mike Seemuth