Florida Power & Light Co. will seek approval Tuesday for a pilot program to build small solar arrays in select cities such as Fort Lauderdale, with funding from customers who choose to donate.

Solar advocacy groups reject the plan. They say donors receive no direct benefits: the solar energy feeds the grid, and contributors get no price break on their electric bill. Furthermore, cash-rich FPL could afford the small arrays. And Florida instead should embrace rooftop solar, where payers benefit.

The program gives FPL $9 per month from those who opt to pay, while donors "get nothing out of it but a feel-good," according to Wayne Wallace, president of the Florida Solar Energy Industries Association.

Staff for regulators at the Public Service Commission recommend approval. They say the three-year program has safeguards to ensure donations fund the arrays. Donors can stop paying at any time. Staff suggests FPL seek enrollments starting January and take donations beginning in May.

FPL aims to build the arrays — some the size of half a football field — starting January. The first 300 kilowatts, split in up to five ventures, could include arrays in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.