Duke Energy Florida said Sept. 30 that it continues to advance the development of solar energy with the announcement of a new 3.8-MW facility in Osceola County.
This Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) subsidiary has filed a storm water and environmental resources permit application with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. DEF will file a land development permit with the Osceola County Planning Department. The agencies’ review of the permits may require up to eight weeks. Construction of the Osceola Solar Facility will begin once permits are approved. The facility is expected to be on line in early 2016.
The Osceola project is the first in a strategic, long-range plan to install 35 MW of solar by 2018 and up to 500 MW of solar in the state by 2024.
“As the cost of solar energy continues to decrease, we’re increasing our investments in this resource,” said Alex Glenn, Duke Energy state president–Florida. “It’s part of our ongoing strategy to offer clean energy and provide customers more options to use renewable energy.”
The Osceola facility will be built on 17 acres of a larger 25-acre parcel owned by DEF on Canoe Creek Road in Kenansville. The larger parcel includes the Canoe Creek transmission substation, owned and operated by DEF. The existing 230-kV substation will allow the new solar facility to be connected to the grid without additional easements or extensive line construction.
The company’s new solar facilities will complement a 1,640-MW combined-cycle natural gas plant to be built in Citrus County, an upgrade of a combined-cycle energy complex in Polk County and the purchase of the gas-fired Osprey Energy Center, also in Polk County. These projects will allow the company to meet a significant need for additional energy for its customers beginning in 2018 and to retire half of its Florida coal-fired fleet by that same year. The coal units to be retired are Crystal River Units 1 and 2.
In May, DEF received approval to build, own and operate a 5-MW solar facility that will serve the Reedy Creek Improvement District near Orlando.
Over the past eight years, parent Duke Energy has invested more than $4 billion in wind and solar facilities in 12 states. This includes the company’s Stanton Solar Farm located in Orange County, which began operation in 2011. The company plans to invest about $3 billion in renewable energy over the next five years.
Duke Energy Florida owns coal-fired and natural gas generation providing about 9,000 MW of owned electric capacity to approximately 1.7 million customers in a 13,000-square-mile service area.