A Solar City in the US

The housing collapse be damned, Kitson & Partners announces it will build a planned city near Fort Meyers with 19,500 homes, offices, retail shops, and light industry.

Florida Power & Light Co. would build a 75-megawatt solar photovoltaic array to supply electricity to the development’s 6 million square feet of residential, industrial and retail buildings.

The planned city, Babcock Ranch, will include a smart grid to let residents monitor and adjust their energy consumptions. More than half of its 17,000 acres will be permanently protected as greenways and open space, according to the Miami Herald.

And who is behind this plan? Florida developer and former NFL lineman Syd Kitson.

Kitson, who is planning to raise outside capital as the project progresses, said he is attempting to persuade several companies to set up shop in Babcock Ranch. He is targeting solar panel manufacturers, lithium-ion battery makers and other clean-energy companies.

“We’d like Babcock Ranch to be the seed, where we could really start the R&D … and have other companies come in and expand on that,” Kitson said.

Construction crews plan to break ground on Babcock Ranch’s infrastructure next year and begin building homes and offices in 2011, Kitson said. The entire city would be certified by the nonprofit Florida Green Building Coalition.

A study conducted by the economic research firm Fishkind & Associates Inc. for Kitson projects that Babcock Ranch would generate 20,000 permanent jobs in technology, retail, education, construction and other sectors over 20 years.