A view of Babcock Ranch's town center which includes a general store, fitness center, doctors’ offices, and day care center. (Courtesy Babcock Ranch)
11 Sep 2023

Entirely solar powered town in the US the first hurricane proof and energy self sufficient community


Babcock Ranch has made a name for itself as the first solar-powered town in the United States: nearly 700,000 solar panels supply energy to over 2,000 homes and other buildings, including schools and a health center.

The United States is hit by a natural disaster every eighteen days, according to the country's government. Now the number of residential areas with climate adaptation and hurricane protection is growing, including Babcock Ranch, America's first hurricane-proof city.

The increasingly extreme weather causes costs to skyrocket and has caused several insurance companies to stop insuring homes citing climate change. Demand for climate-safe housing is now growing.

"We were away in Italy when the storm came last time. Fortunately, we were able to lower the hurricane protection for the home via an application", says realtor Lisa Hall, who lives in hurricane-proof Babcock Ranch, to SVT.se. 

According to VOA News,  the town was envisioned by Syd Kitson, as an environmentally friendly energy-efficient city. His dream became a reality in 2018: 

"I believe deeply in respecting the environment and wanted to prove that you could build this new city and work hand-in-hand with the environment," said Kitson, CEO of the real estate firm Kitson & Partners. "Our water management system is based around natural floodways. We also have 7,000 hectares we are preserving."


Solar panels in Babcock Ranch. Courtesy of the town council.
Solar panels in Babcock Ranch. Courtesy of the town council. 


According to an article on the BBC on September 4, Florida's Babcock Ranch was built to survive a storm. Hurricane Ian was the town's first test. Incredibly, the community went through the storm almost untouched. 

"When Hurricane Ian made landfall on the southwest Florida coast, it brought 150mph (241km/h) winds17 inches (43cm) of rain within 24 hours, and storm surges of up to 18ft (5.5m). It was the costliest hurricane in Florida's history, causing more than $112bn (£88bn) in damage – and at least 150 deaths.... Babcock Ranchan 18,000-acre (73 sq km) development that was sitting in the eye of the storm, on the southwest of the state, just north of Fort Myers.

Hurricane Ian was to be the development's first test.

"The winds felt like a freight train running through my house," remembers Kitson, who lives at Babcock. "And I remember thinking 'if we survive this the way we should, it's going to prove a point'. But you never really know until you're absolutely tested – you can do all the planning and engineering you want, but don't know for sure what the results will be."

In the aftermath, not a single house lost power, internet, or access to clean water. Only a few upturned palm trees and street signs.

"We had minimal damage. If we hadn't put in place those resilient steps, we would have had tens of billions of dollars of damage. So those upfront costs to make Babcock resilient paid for themselves in just the first couple of years."

The solar farm stores the energy captured in a large BESS (Battery Energy Storage System), according to the town´s web page:

"The FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center features a 10-megawatt/40-megawatt-hour battery energy storage system – the largest combined solar-plus storage system commissioned in the U.S."

The fire services for the community is provided by the Charlotte County, according to Wink News:

WCharlotte County commissioners recently approved hiring four new firefighters, also trained as paramedics or EMTs, with two working out of the heart of Babcock Ranch on a daily basis."

“What the rescue is going to bring to that is the transport capability in addition to paramedics and EMTs that facilitate advanced life support care,” said Deputy Chief Jason Fair of Charlotte County Fire & EMS


Photo Credit: (Above) A view of Babcock Ranch's town center which includes a general store, fitness center, doctors’ offices, and day care center. (Courtesy Babcock Ranch)