FP&L expands its solar footprint in NW Florida
by Carlton Proctor and Laura Hampton
Updated 2 yearss ago
Florida Power & Light is doubling down on its commitment to expand solar energy production in Northwest Florida. Matt Valle, vice president of development at FP&L, talks about details of the multi-phase project.
Solar Fields: We currently have eight sites in different phases of operation or development. Each site will be capable of generating 74.5-megawatts, enough to power 15,000 homes annually.
Blue Indigo Solar Energy Center in Jackson County went into operation on April 1, 2020.
Blue Springs in Jackson County and Cotton Creek in Escambia County are in the early stages of construction and expected be in operation at the end of 2021.
We have five other solar farms in the early stages of development in four counties: Two are in Calhoun, one in Escambia, one in Jackson and one in Santa Rosa.
Solar Generation: Approximately 1,714 megawatts are projected to be in Gulf Power’s Northwest Florida service region.
Besides Solar?: At this point, solar energy is the only renewable energy planned for Northwest Florida. However, Gulf Power also provides power from wind energy farms in Oklahoma that have the potential to produce 272 megawatts, enough energy to power 80,000 homes. Right now, renewable energy, which also includes our Perdido landfill-gas-to-energy project, makes up 11% of our energy mix.
FP&L has started installing fast-charging electric vehicle stations on Florida’s highways.
Florida Power & Light installed three fast-charging stations in March at North Florida locations.
As part of the FPL EVolution program, the electric vehicle charging stations at Lake City (near I-10), in Yulee (near I-95) and in St. Augustine (near I-95) advanced FP&L’s plan to make electric vehicle charging more accessible on Florida’s highways.
Anuj Chokshi, director of development for FPL EVolution, says the company plans to install 1,000 charging ports across the state in 100 locations.
On I-95, fast-charging stations are planned at about 50-mile intervals, but Chokshi acknowledges that east/west highways like SR 70 and SR 80 are just as important to locals.
“One of the barriers to electric vehicle adoption is ‘range anxiety,’ ” Chokshi says. “It is very important to ensure people can travel long distances and not worry. To do that, you need a highway network.”
At the fast-charging sites, drivers can get a “substantial charge (about 80% capacity) in 20 to 30 minutes,” he says. By comparison, the commonly found charging stations in shopping centers, multifamily housing neighborhoods and workplaces can get about 20 to 30 miles of charge per hour, Chokshi says.
On average, electric vehicles can travel 250 miles on a single charge.
FP&L is also planning to launch a home-charging pilot program as part of FPL EVolution.
Chokshi believes the need for electric charging options will continue to grow as auto manufacturers make electric vehicles more accessible and Floridians embrace the eco-friendlier alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles.
“Florida has seen almost a 300% increase in electric vehicles over the past five years,” Chokshi says. “And we’ve been able to do it without state subsidies or incentives.”
Read more in Florida Trend's June issue.
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