America's 'first solar-powered town' was a hurricane success story as millions of other Floridians lost power — see inside Babcock Ranch
- Hurricane Ian knocked out power to 4 million customers in Florida.
- But one community was left largely unscathed by the Category-5 storm, CNN reported.
As Hurricane Ian battered Florida and left millions without power last week, one forward-thinking community managed to keep the lights on.
Babcock Ranch, a planned community of roughly 2,000 that bills itself as "America's first solar-powered town," skated through the storm without power loss or significant damage, CNN reported. A spokesperson for Babcock Ranch confirmed that residents didn't lose power.
The town — just north of Fort Myers — gets its electricity from an on-site, 870-acre solar array made up of 650,000 panels. The system produces more energy than the town consumes and includes batteries to supply power on cloudy days and at night.
Bonus solar panels on commercial rooftops and in public spaces boost energy generation. And some residents have installed panels on their homes, according to CNN. Babcock Ranch's website advertises a "life powered by the sun."
The majority of Florida's electricity comes from natural gas-fired power plants. Ian, which brought 150-mph gusts and pounding rain, knocked out power to more than 4 million customers in Florida, according to Reuters. Nearly 400,000 homes and business still didn't have power as of Tuesday, Reuters reported.
Although solar power is at the core of Babcock Ranch, the community as a whole was developed with a focus on sustainability and climate resiliency.
Streets were designed to minimize flooding. The town was built above storm surge area. The field house at the new Babcock High School doubles as a storm shelter.
According to CNN, the town's power and internet cables are buried to protect them from wind. Half of the town's acreage is dedicated to parks, lakes, and greenways.
Residents told CNN that Ian was proof that Babcock Ranch's concept holds up in the face of a severe storm.
"We have proof of the case now because [the hurricane] came right over us," one resident told CNN. "We have water, electricity, internet — and we may be the only people in Southwest Florida who are that fortunate."
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