Solar power industry grows in NCFL, Ocala and Alachua to start providing solar to customers soon
OCALA, Fla. (WCJB) - A pair of utilities in North Central Florida will soon be offering solar power to their customers.
In partnership with the Florida Municipal Power Agency and other municipal electric utilities, Ocala and Alachua are creating one of the largest municipal-backed solar projects in the country.
The Florida Municipal Solar Project was announced in May 2018.
The project will consist of five solar farms, generating nearly 375 megawatts for the 16 Florida municipal electric utilities to access. Since the the announcement, just over 285,000 solar panels have been installed at two sites in Orlando, supplying 149 megawatts of solar power to six Florida cities - Fort Pierce, Jacksonville Beach,Key West, Kissimmee, Ocala and Orlando.
The sites came online on June 30th and are the Harmony Solar Energy Center in St. Cloud and theTaylor Creek Solar Energy Center in east Orange County near Wedgefield.
Ocala Electric Utility is currently receiving seven megawatts, but in 2023 when the other three solar sites are completed, they’ll receive another 23 megawatts, for a total of 30 megawatts.
Ocala Electric Utilities officials are hoping residents take advantage of this ‘clean energy’ option.
“When you’re buying into or supporting solar energy to Ocala Electric Utility, you’re supporting the generation that comes from that plant. We want you to think about it, to go green, our customers because it’s an exciting offering, opportunity as technology comes around,” Interim Director of Ocala Electric Utilities, Eric Weaver said.
If residents so choose, there will be the option to switch their bill to use 100, 50 or 25 percent solar, but it comes with a cost.
“I’ll give an example, if you were to go in 100 percent and your average usage was 1,00 kilowatt hours you would take that up charge of 1.6 cents times a thousand which means you’d be paying about $16 dollars more than your neighbor would be paying for the equivalent amount of kilowatt hours,” Weaver said.
The Ocala City Council has approved the 1.6 cent up charge for those who do sign up for solar.
The city will start signing people up for solar in August and hope to starting providing collected energy in October. More information will be shared on the city’s website.
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