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.
So when Hurricane Ian came barreling toward southwest Florida this week, it was a true test for the community. The storm obliterated the nearby Fort Myers and Naples areas with record-breaking surge and winds over 100 mph. It knocked out power to more than 2.6 million customers in the state, including 90% of Charlotte County.
But the lights stayed on in Babcock Ranch.
“We have proof of the case now because [the hurricane] came right over us,” Nancy Chorpenning, a 68-year-old Babcock Ranch resident, told CNN. “We have water, electricity, internet — and we may be the only people in Southwest Florida who are that fortunate.”
Stories like this will go a long way toward getting us stupid humans to fully embrace solar power. If your neighbor still has lights, TV and Internet access after a cataclysmic hurricane, while you are huddled around a candle, you will likely wonder what you can do next time to keep the electricity flowing.
According to the article, Babcock Ranch has become a prime shelter location for evacuees, as Babcock Neighborhood School is currently functioning as a refuge center (despite its lack of a backup generator!).
Please share this story far and wide. As hurricanes get more destructive thanks to global warming, soon everyone will want the security of living in a storm-proof community.