Miami-Dade County Could Amend Law to Build more Floating Solar Panel Structures – South Florida Business Journal

The Law Offices of John Caravella, P.C. does not own this content. This content was created by Ashley Portero, and was published to the South Florida Business Journal. To view the full article, please click here.

Miami-Dade lawmakers could change the county’s zoning laws to make it easier to build new solar energy systems, including floating solar panels. On Nov. 7 the board of county commissioners will consider an ordinance that aims to make more space for solar facilities that create clean, renewable energy sources. The measure would authorize solar facilities as a primary use on agriculturally zoned lands and allow the county to install floating solar systems on certain bodies of water, like lakes.

“Enabling the use of solar energy systems and facilities is consistent with the county’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to the county’s goal to be more resilient to climate change and sea level rise,” County COO Jimmy Morales wrote in an executive summary of the ordinance.

If passed, the ordinance will amend the county code to define a “solar facility” as something that serves properties beyond where they are installed. Under the current code, a “solar energy system” is defined as only serving properties they are located on.

The proposal includes safeguards to protect drinking water resources, national parks, Everglades restoration areas, estuaries and other environmentally sensitive areas from development.

The ordinance’s prime sponsor is Commissioner Kevin Cabrera, who represents parts of Hialeah, Coral Gables and West Miami.

“We’ve collaborated with the Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources, the Office of Resiliency and Chief Bay Officer to amend our local code to align with state statutes, enabling solar energy adoption while upholding environmental standards,” Cabrera told the Business Journal.

Florida is home to the third largest market for solar energy in the U.S, behind Texas and California. However, just six percent of the state’s electricity is generated from solar power.

Miami-Dade is already making moves to boost its solar profile. In 2020, the county partnered with state utility Florida Power & Light to install 402 floating solar panels at the Blue Lagoon next to Miami International Airport. The half-acre site generates 160 kilowatts of power and prevents 165 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year, the county reports.

Proponents of floating solar panel systems say they are more efficient because proximity to water helps the panels stay cool and absorb more energy. It can also be less expensive to build on water than buying land. However, floating panels can be more costly to build and maintain long term.


John Caravella, Esq

John Caravella Esq., is a construction attorney and formerly practicing project architect at The Law Office of John Caravella, P.C., representing architects, engineers, contractors, subcontractors, and owners in all phases of contract preparation, litigation, and arbitration across New York and Florida. He also serves as an arbitrator to the American Arbitration Association Construction Industry Panel. Mr. Caravella can be reached by email: [email protected] or (631) 608-1346.

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Ashley Portero covers technology and innovation for Miami Inno and is the author of The Beat newsletter. She joined the Business Journal in 2018 as the Banking & Finance reporter. Her coverage and newsletter have received recognition from the Florida Press Club, including 1st place in 2023. She previously held roles at the Brafton News in Boston, International Business Times in New York City, The Boston Globe, and writing for Miami Dade College’s in-house magazine, College Forum. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Emerson College.

The Law Offices of John Caravella, P.C. does not own this content. This content was created by Ashley Portero, and was published to the South Florida Business Journal. To view the full article, please click here.

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