Florida Utility Gulf Power & Department of Defense Go Solar with Coronal

This blog was written by Alissa Schafer, former Solar Policy & Communications Manager at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Guest Blog | September 20, 2017 | Energy Policy, Solar

Tucked in the far northwest corner of the Florida panhandle, many people forget about the Navy and Air Force bases located there, out of sight, out of mind. These somewhat remote locations were in the headlines just last month though, and for a great reason: Three large solar installations had just been completed. A total of 120 MW, it is the largest combined portfolio of solar facilities on Department of Defense property to date.

This video was produced by Coronal about the Gulf Power solar projects.

The project was accomplished via a deal between the local utility, Gulf Power, solar developer Coronal Energy, and the Department of Defense in what Gulf Power Chairman, President, and CEO called an “innovative public-private partnership”. Here’s how it works: The land the solar panels are on is owned by the military. Gulf Power is currently leasing the land, and then sub leasing to Coronal Energy. Coronal built the built the solar farms in partnership with the Department of Defense, who receives lease payments, and is now selling all the power the solar farms are generating back to Gulf Power.

In a statement released by Coronal Energy, chairman and CEO of Coronal Energy applauded the leadership and partnership between Gulf Power and the Department of Defense: “Considering the scale of the Gulf Coast Solar Center portfolio, collaboration between our team and the like-minded teams at the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and Gulf Power has been an essential element of our success in developing these projects,” said Jonathan Jaffrey, chairman and CEO of Coronal Energy™. “The result is a landmark energy project that represents what is possible when our nation’s military and its leading energy companies like Gulf Power commit to renewables. We are honored to take our place alongside these partners for this historic project.”

As solar development always does, these installations provided local jobs during the construction process as well. According to Coronal Energy, nearly 450 local laborers have been employed on the project since November of 2016. Solar Ready Vets participated in the project as well, a program that helps train troops for careers in the solar field as they transition out of military service.

Here are the details on the project, as released by Gulf Power:

Eglin Air Force Base

  • Largest Air Force solar project worldwide in terms of megawatts
  • About 375,000 photovoltaic panels
  • Capable of generating 30 MW, enough to power about 4,500 Okaloosa County homes in a snapshot
  • Spans about 226 acres, the equivalent of 171 football fields

Pensacola NAS Saufley Field

  • Largest of the three sites
  • About 600,000 panels
  • Capable of generating 50 MW, enough to power about 7,400 Escambia County homes in a snapshot
  • Spans about 438 acres, the equivalent of 331 football fields

Holley Field

  • About 475,000 photovoltaic panels
  • Capable of generating 40 MW, enough to power about 6,100 Santa Rosa County homes in a snapshot
  • Spans about 330 acres, the equivalent of 250 football fields

In the big picture of utility scale solar in Florida, the completion of this project, which began in 2016, certainly puts Gulf Power in a leadership role as a power company that has followed through on promises to increase renewable energy generation. In the last several months, other investor owned utilities have made announcements of even higher numbers of megawatts, Florida Power & Light stating that they are on track to install 600 MW by the end of 2018 with even more in the pipeline by 2023, and Duke Energy Florida announcing plans to add 700 MW of solar in the next few years just this week. We remain hopeful that these projects will come to fruition, and that even more will be announced. The completion of Coronal Energy’s project was a historic day, but wouldn’t it be great if completing a solar project were just normal, everyday news?

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