Duke Energy Florida has announced that it will build two more new solar farms in the Sunshine State. This time, they’ll be in Citrus and Hardee counties.

The utility reported in February that it 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 will more than quadruple the amount of in-service solar on the system over the next four years.

Duke Energy Florida’s new solar farms

Duke Energy Florida (DEF) announced this week:

DEF currently has more than 900 MW of solar generation under construction or in operation, and will more than quadruple the amount of in-service solar on its system over the next four years.

The Fort Green Power Plant will be built on approximately 500 acres in Hardee County, Florida. The 74.9-megawatt (MW) plant will consist of approximately 265,000 solar panels, utilizing a fixed-tilt racking system that will produce enough carbon-free energy to effectively power more than 20,000 average-sized homes at peak production.

The Bay Trail Solar Power Plant will be built on 500 acres in Citrus County, Florida. Once operational, the 74.9-MW facility will consist of approximately 197,000 tracking bifacial solar panels. Its innovative double-sided panel design is highly efficient and tracks the movement of the sun. The plant will be capable of effectively producing enough electricity to power approximately 23,000 average-sized homes at peak production.

Duke Energy Florida does not state when both projects are expected to be completed and online.

Solar energy is Florida’s most abundant energy resource. Yet, according to the US Energy Information Administration:

Florida is the second-largest producer of electricity after Texas, and natural gas fueled about 70% of the Florida’s electricity net generation in 2018.

Florida is the fourth-largest energy-consuming state, and it uses almost eight times as much energy as it produces.

Electrek’s Take

Every new solar or wind farm is something to be celebrated, and Florida has to ramp up the use of its greatest asset for energy: the sun. But Duke Energy as a whole is still heavily reliant on fossil fuels, i.e., natural gas and coal – the company has a long way to go to clean up. However, it does want to retire its coal plants eight years early, in 2034.

But frankly, when it comes to clean energy legislation, which is necessary to speed up the transition of utilities to green energy, like in Virginia, the Republican-majority Florida State Legislature is living in the dark ages. The state is keen to address sea-level rise, but it doesn’t want to address the cause of the sea-level rise. For example, just today, the Tampa Bay Times reported:

The Senate committee also passed Senate Bill 856, which would prohibit the replacement of gas stations with greener energy options, and block the replacement of natural gas as a home energy source (Senate Bill 1128).

The state legislature is being downright regressive and self-defeating. Because 78% of Republicans aged 18 to 38 say the US should prioritize alternative energy.

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