Duke Energy has announced that it will build two new solar farms in Florida, in Hamilton and Columbia Counties.

The utilities giant is investing an estimated $1 billion to construct or acquire a total of 700 MW of solar farms from 2018 through 2022 in Florida, and planning for another 1,500 MW of solar generation through 2028.

Duke Energy announced:

The Twin Rivers Solar Power Plant will be built on 460 acres in Hamilton County, Florida. Once operational, the 74.9 megawatt (MW) facility will consist of approximately 235,000 tracking solar panels to power approximately 23,000 homes at peak production.

The Santa Fe Solar Power Plant will be built on approximately 600 acres in Columbia County, Florida. The 74.9 MW plant will consist of approximately 235,000 tracking solar panels to power more than 23,000 average homes at peak production.

Completion is expected in late 2020, and each solar project will create 200 to 300 temporary jobs.

These two plants join two solar farms completed by Duke in December, and two that are currently under construction and expected to come online in April and June.

Duke Energy provides around 10,200 MW of owned electric capacity to about 1.8 million customers in a 13,000-square-mile service area.

The Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA) broke ground on solar farms in Osceola and Orange counties in November. Those will provide enough energy to power 45,000 homes.

As Electrek has previously reported for context, according to Florida Census Data, there are around 6.3 million homes in the Sunshine State.

Electrek’s Take

New solar is always welcome, particularly in the US South. For example, the region’s energy efficiency lags behind the rest of the country — it’s less than half as efficient as in other regions.

And it’s not like Florida doesn’t have enough sun — the state should take full advantage of its natural resource, the way Arizona is doing. Arizona ranked second in the US in total solar energy generation in 2017, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy’s (SACE) “Energy Efficiency in the Southeast” 2019 Annual Report noted that Duke Energy leads on energy efficiency, but that there is disparity among southern states (and they explain why):

Duke Energy Carolinas, operating in North and South Carolina, continues to be the only utility in the Southeast to exceed 1% annual savings (1.03%), a symbolic checkpoint on the path toward the higher savings levels achieved by successful utilities in other parts of the country. Duke Energy Progress (0.86%), also operating in North and South Carolina, was also head-and-shoulders above the next major Southeastern utility energy efficiency leader. State policy differences meant far lower savings for Duke Energy Florida (0.21%).

So even though efficiency and solar are two separate things, they both fall under the same green energy advancement umbrella, so it’s good to see Duke Energy Florida push these solar initiatives.

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