“We are working hard to lower the cost of solar power, so that we can provide emissions-free electricity for customers and add to our already low emissions generation portfolio,” said FMPA’s Jacob Williams, general manager and CEO of the Orlando-based wholesale power agency. “Building a large project, like this, helps make solar more cost effective.”
The 12 cities 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, Ocala, Orlando Utilities Commission, Wauchula and Winter Park.
This joint effort, known as the Florida Municipal Solar Project, is one of the largest municipal-backed solar projects in the United States. Approximately 900,000 solar panels will be installed on three solar sites expected to be built in Osceola and Orange Counties.
Combined, the three solar sites will total approximately 1,200 acres, or the equivalent of 900 football fields filled with solar panels. Total electricity output will be 223.5 MW, which is approximately enough energy to power 45,000 typical Florida homes. Each solar site is designed to generate 74.5 MW. The ground-mounted solar panels for this project will be installed with a computer-controlled tracking system to follow the sun daily as it moves from east to west, maximizing power output.
As a result, it is estimated the cost of solar energy from this project will be about one-third the cost of 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-based NextEra Florida Renewables. After an estimated 18-month permitting process, construction is expected to begin in early 2020 and should be operational by June 30, 2020.