florida indexBabcock Ranch offers a town-size rejoinder to those who say solar power can’t scale. In the suburbs of Fort Myers in South Florida, Babcock is meant to become America’s first city fueled entirely by the sun, thanks to its 75-megawatt array of solar panels. Only two families have moved in so far, but students from nearby towns have already filled the first of several planned schools, and the footprint includes plans for 19,500 homes and about 50,000 residents. “Along with innovation and change, there’s a throwback to an earlier time,” says Donna Aveck, who arrived in January with her husband, Jim. “We’re thrilled to be pioneers.”

Developer Kitson & Partners started building the town about a decade ago after buying land from the Babcock Ranch Preserve, which retains about 73,000 acres of pinelands and prairie nearby. So far, only about 100 homes are contracted for construction—but self-driving shuttles have already begun to ferry people around. —Photographs by Rose Marie Cromwell

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