Ray of hope for economy in Northwest Florida
Solar Power selected Gadsden County for its first solar farm.
National Solar CEO James Scrivener announced in September that the company will build a solar energy farm in Gadsden County. [Photo: Mike Ewen/Tallahassee Democrat]
Northwest Florida is anticipating a burst of economic energy after National Solar Power selected Gadsden County for its first solar farm, a $1.5-billion venture to convert sunshine into electricity.
|» "Now that we have a site, we can begin engaging with finance partners in due diligence. There will be both ownership partners as well as backers." — James Scrivener|
The Melbourne-based company claims the 400-megawatt solar project will be the largest in the Southeast, with at least 20 solar farms on 200-acre sites, built at a cost of $70 million each, primarily on timber or agricultural land. The project will create enough electricity to power 32,000 homes and is expected to create 400 jobs during the five-year construction and up to 120 permanent jobs once the project is complete.
Gadsden County was chosen over three competing Florida sites and others in Georgia and North Carolina. National Solar Power CEO James Scrivener cited climate, community and regional support and potential for economic growth as reasons for choosing Gadsden. Also a key factor was Tallahassee Community College's plan to create a solar energy educational and training center at its Gadsden campus, which will include a 2-megawatt solar farm (enough to power about 150 homes) built by National Solar.
The company has power supply agreements totaling more than 3,000 megawatts with eight Southeastern utilities, most located in Florida, and has a contract agreement with Progress Energy to supply more than 400 megawatts from both the Gadsden and future sites, Scrivener says. The company has tentative agreements so far with three timber companies on Gadsden County land deals and has talked with some 30 U.S. funding sources about debt or equity financing. Construction could begin in early 2012.