By: Alternate Power Solutions
This story was sourced from an article written by NPR on October 6th, 2022. The full story from its original source material can be found here: NPR Story
To Stay or To Go:
BABCOCK RANCH, Fla. — In a decision echoing that of numerous residents in Southwest Florida, residents in a small community took the path of sheltering at home rather than evacuating when Hurricane Ian made landfall as a Category 4 storm.
However, it wasn't mere fortune that ensured the safety of these residents, or averted harm to their finely furnished single-story residence.
One could argue that it was all premeditated. Maybe even by design?
What is Babcock Ranch?
Babcock Ranch is an inventive neighborhood situated north of Fort Myers, designed to ensure residences can withstand the harshest challenges posed by Mother Nature. This community has skillfully constructed homes that remain resilient even in the face of flooding, power outages, and internet disruptions.
Strategically positioned 30 miles inland, Babcock Ranch is intentionally situated away from the coastal regions to minimize the risk of storm surges. One notable feature is that power lines leading to homes are meticulously placed underground, safeguarding them against the impact of strong winds. The community is further fortified by expansive retention ponds encircling the area, acting as a barrier against potential flooding. Additionally, the streets are ingeniously designed to absorb excess floodwater, sparing the homes from inundation.
Babcock Ranch employs a groundbreaking approach to harnessing solar energy: within its property holdings, spanning 870 acres, the community integrates a staggering 650,000 photovoltaic panels, overseen by Florida Power & Light.
This solar installation not only caters to the energy needs of the entire Babcock Ranch community but exceeds them. In fact, its capacity extends to providing power for up to 30,000 households. Worth noting, however, is that the population of Babcock Ranch hovers around 5,000 residents. The surplus energy generated by this solar array is redirected back into the power grid, benefiting neighboring communities. In instances of insufficient sunlight, such as during nights and cloudy days, the energy load is seamlessly managed by a natural gas generator, bridging the energy gap effectively.
Why does this matter?
Hurricane Ian was a big test for this community, where houses start at around $250,000. The storm provided "proof of concept" for the community's design. The developers of Babcock Ranch welcome imitators too. Communities elsewhere in the U.S. might benefit from what has been learned here.
In an age where we take for granted our safety and security, many families fail to consider real threats to their homes like Hurricanes and Tropical Storms. Communities like this, whose innovative construction and design, use of generators and solar energy, and ability to withstand natural disasters are showcasing the power of preparation.
One resident went as far as to say that they never brag about their good fortune because you don't want to invite negativity or bad karma if a Category 5 storm were to show up and their community was damaged as a result. However, this community could serve as a lesson for the housing and community developers of the future. Employing a company like ours to install these generators, and employing real strategies to keep the residents safe, could be the wave of the future.
A future that's safer for all of us stuck at home when we're the most vulnerable.
At Alternate Power Solutions, we offer a wide range of generators to fit every need and budget. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you prepare for the next power outage.