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Environment

Three Solar Power Plants Proposed In Florida As Industry Grows

Lake Hancock solar facility
Steve Newborn
/
WUSF Public Media

Duke Energy recently announced plans for three new solar power plants in Florida -- two of which are in the greater Tampa Bay region.

The company’s proposed 75 megawatt plants in Manatee, Hardee and Alachua counties are part of a 2017 settlement to build 700 megawatts of solar energy production by 2022. One megawatt is enough to power about 190 homes for a year.

“Duke is fulfilling what they said they were going to now. If we look at their 10-year site plan, this is not the end of the road for them,” said Bryan Jacob, solar program director with the nonprofit Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Within the next decade, he said Duke plans to build two projects of this same scale each year for the next four years. After that, plans call for a 75 megawatt plant each year for another four years.

These three-newly announced plants are expected to come online next year. The proposals are awaiting approval from the Florida Public Service Commission.

Jacob expects a response within the next couple months.

He said Florida was “late to the party,” but that the state’s energy producers are now “leaping ahead.”

“Based on my annual updates and the trajectory that we are on, there's a major milestone ahead where Florida could get to 10 gigawatts of solar -- that's 10,000 megawatts of solar -- within the next decade,” said Jacob.

He added that Florida is stepping up across all different solar markets, including leases, community programs, and residential rooftops.

North Carolina is the second state for generating the most solar energy in the country right now behind California. However, Jacob said Florida is on track to overtake North Carolina within the next year or two.