Nearly 15,000 solar panels soaking up the sun in Osceola County are now providing clean, renewable energy to Duke Energy customers in Florida.
The new Duke Energy owned and operated Osceola Solar Facility is about the size of 13 football fields and produces nearly 4MW of carbon-free energy. It officially began commercial operation on May 12.
The solar plant's opening will be celebrated at the Aug. 1 Osceola County Commission meeting. At 1:30 p.m., commissioners will join Duke Energy representatives to sign a commemorative solar panel, which will be displayed at the commission office, 1 Courthouse Square, Room 4700, Kissimmee.
"As the cost of solar energy continues to decrease and the efficiency of panels grows, we're increasing our investments in solar," said Alex Glenn, Duke Energy state president – Florida. "It's part of our ongoing strategy to offer clean energy and provide customers more options to use renewable energy."
Florida-based Advanced Green Technologies designed, engineered and constructed the facility on 17 acres next to an existing Duke Energy substation in Kenansville.
"When you say Kenansville, people automatically think agriculture. Now they can think technology, too. Solar is a new type of 'farming' for my district – one with a positive environmental impact," said Osceola County Commissioner Fred Hawkins Jr. "Adding a renewable source like solar gives Duke Energy customers a more balanced energy mix and that's more important today than ever before."
The solar power plant is the first in a strategic, long-range plan to install 35 megawatts of solar by 2018 and up to 500MW of solar energy in the state by 2024, helping ensure residents have increasingly clean and diverse power sources.
To that end, construction will be wrapping up in August at the 5MW solar plant in Perry (Taylor County). The company is planning to unveil that project in mid-October.
In addition to building universal solar in the Sunshine State, Duke Energy Florida is helping approximately 90 residential and business customers a month install private solar on their property. The company has established a renewables service center to make it easier for customers to interconnect and is researching various community solar designs that can give all of our customers the opportunity to support more solar generation in Florida.
Earlier this year, the company unveiled a 5MW solar power plant in the shape of a "not-so-hidden-Mickey" to serve the Walt Disney World Resort through an agreement with the Reedy Creek Improvement District.
Solar projects, such as the Osceola and Perry solar plants, allow the company to efficiently bring the greatest amount of renewables on line for customers in the most economical way. One megawatt of large-scale solar is equivalent to about 200 typical residential rooftop systems. The number varies by state and conditions.
Over the past eight years, Duke Energy has invested more than $4 billion in wind and solar facilities in 12 states.