ORLANDO — The City of Alachua, along with the Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA), and in conjunction with 11 other Florida municipal electric utilities and Florida Renewable Partners, LLC, broke ground on the Florida Municipal Solar Project, one of the largest municipal-backed solar projects in the nation.
A total of approximately 900,000 solar panels will be installed at two sites in Osceola County and at one site in Orange County. That’s enough solar panels to fill 900 football fields or stretch from Jacksonville Beach to Key West two and a half times. The total generating capability will be 223.5 megawatts of zero-emissions energy, which is enough to power 45,000 typical Florida homes.
The 12 local utilities that will purchase power from the project include: Alachua, Bartow, Beaches Energy Services (Jacksonville Beach), Fort Pierce Utilities Authority, Homestead, Keys Energy Services (Key West), Kissimmee Utility Authority, Lake Worth Beach, Ocala, Orlando Utilities Commission, Wauchula and Winter Park.
“We are pleased to start construction on a project of this size, which will enable us to provide affordable, emissions-free solar power to our customers,” said FMPA’s Jacob Williams, general manager and CEO of the Orlando-based wholesale power agency. “By working together, the cities can build a larger, more efficient facility to help make solar energy cost effective.”
Construction on phase one of the project will continue through mid-2020. When complete, the power output from this project will be equal to 37,250 average-size rooftop solar systems.
To enhance efficiency, the ground-mounted solar panels will be installed with a computer-controlled tracking system that moves the panel to track the sun as it travels from east to west, maximizing power output.
Buying and installing the solar panels in such large quantities and using technology to make them as efficient as possible, the cost of solar energy from this project is about one-third the cost of electricity from a typical private, rooftop system.
FMPA is serving as the project coordinator, and the 12 municipal utilities, who are member-owners of FMPA, will purchase power from the project. The builder, owner and operator of the solar farms is Florida Renewable Partners, whose parent company is the world’s largest generator of renewable energy from wind and the sun.
While construction of the first phase is underway, FMPA and its members are working to expand its solar power generation. The utilities are looking to grow the project to a total of 375 megawatts by 2023.
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