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Major Solar Energy Project Begins Operation in Central Florida

image credit: Harmony Solar Energy Center

Six Florida cities receiving clean energy from the first two of five solar farms

ORLANDO, Fla., June 30, 2020 – Two Central Florida solar farms that are part of one of the largest municipal-backed solar projects in the nation are now operational. Harmony Solar Energy Center in St. Cloud and the Taylor Creek Solar Energy Center in east Orange County near Wedgefield are in the Florida Municipal Solar Project, a partnership between the Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA) and 16 Florida public power utilities.

A total of nearly 600,000 solar panels are installed at the two solar sites, filling about 1,500 acres. Each solar farm can generate 74.5 megawatts, for a combined addition of 149 megawatts of emissions-free energy. That is enough to power 30,000 homes. Six Florida cities will receive power from the two solar sites including Fort Pierce, Jacksonville Beach, Key West, Kissimmee, Ocala and Orlando.

Large-Scale Solar More Economical

“Today is a major step forward in providing affordable, solar energy to our customers,” said FMPA’s Jacob Williams, general manager and CEO of the Orlando-based wholesale power agency. “Through this project, we are adding to our already low emissions generation portfolio and meeting customers’ expectations to provide solar energy in the most economical way.”

The group is building five solar farms totaling 1.5 million solar panels that will generate nearly 375 megawatts by the end of 2023. Florida Renewable Partners is the owner operator of three solar sites in Phase 1, and Origis Energy will develop two solar sites in Phase II.

This is the first large utility-scale solar project for FMPA and its members. The 16 local utilities that will purchase power from the project include: Alachua, Bartow, Beaches Energy Services (Jacksonville Beach), Fort Pierce Utilities Authority, Havana, Homestead, Keys Energy Services (Key West), Kissimmee Utility Authority, Lake Worth Beach, Mount Dora, New Smyrna Beach, Newberry, Ocala, Orlando Utilities Commission, Wauchula and Winter Park. These cities are member-owners of FMPA along with 15 other municipal utilities.

For more information on the Florida Municipal Solar Project or FMPA, visit www.fmpa.com.

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Melisa Inanc's picture

Thank Melisa for the Post!

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Discussions

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jun 30, 2020 9:21 pm GMT

Great to see! Can you share how long this project took to get up and running? I'm hoping the process used can be a model for other similar projects in the Sunshine State. 

Melisa Inanc's picture
Melisa Inanc on Jul 1, 2020 1:57 pm GMT

Hi Matt! Thank you for your question. FMPA’s mission is to provide low-cost, reliable and clean electricity. In 2015, our members expressed interest in adding solar power to their energy generation mix, so we surveyed customers to gain a deeper understanding of their perceptions of solar. Results showed that nearly 72% of residential customers believed a need existed for their community to investigate solar energy. However, most customers did not want to pay more for solar power. To meet customers’ expectations, we then researched the most economical ways to provide clean energy. The Florida Municipal Solar Project was announced in 2018 with 12 founding cities. The 12 Florida municipal utilities broke ground on Phase I of the project in November 2019. In December 2019, Phase 2 was announced with four new participants. Construction of the first two farms was completed in June 2020. Three more solar farms will be added by the end of 2023. When the project is completed, the five solar farms will generate nearly 375 megawatts of emissions-free energy, enough to power 75,000 Florida homes.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jul 1, 2020 4:10 pm GMT

Thanks for that additional info-- and that seems like an aggressive (but obviously successful) timeline. Hope to see other projects follow suit!

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Jul 1, 2020 7:36 pm GMT

Great to see.

I hope these solar projects translate to an accelerated shutdown for the two coal units at Stanton Energy Center.

In the suburbs of east Orange County, two 50-foot concrete cooling towers at the Orlando Utilities Commission’s Curtis H. Stanton Energy Center loom over the surroundings. The towers house OUC’s two coal-fired power plants — the first built in 1987, the second in 1996 — that together account for nearly half of the utility’s total generation.

Amid promises by Orlando leaders to make the city one of the most sustainable in the nation, the utility has begun thinking about how to shut them down.

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