Beaches Energy Joins Big Florida Solar Power Project

May 10, 2018

Beaches Energy, which serves Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach, Ponte Vedra and Palm Valley, has joined one of the largest municipal-backed solar projects in the U.S.

Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA) is working with Beaches Energy and 11 other Florida areas on three solar farms that will be built in Osceola and Orange counties.

The three sites will total about 1,200 acres, or the equivalent of 900 football fields filled with solar panels, according to FMPA.

The joint effort, called the Florida Municipal Project, will generate enough energy to power 45,000 Florida homes.

Credit Beaches Energy

The power output will be equal to 37,250 average-size rooftop solar systems, according to FMPA. Approximately 900,000 solar panels will be installed on about 1,200 acres.

FMPA said one of the benefits of the project is the local utilities will have no up-front costs. They will only pay for power when it is produced. FMPA also claims the power cost will be competitive with other forms of power generation.

The other communities that have agreed to buy power from the project are: Alachua, Bartow, Fort Pierce Utilities Authority, Homestead, Keys Energy Services (Key West), Kissimmee Utility Authority, Lake Worth, Ocala, Orlando Utilities Commission, Wauchula and Winter Park.

FMPA said construction is expected to begin in early 2020 and should be operational by June 30, 2020.  

Increased solar power for the Beaches is part of a larger trend on the First Coast.

JEA shut down its coal-fired St. Johns River Power Park plant on the Northside next to the Dames Point Bridge earlier this year and committed to building five new solar farms on the First Coast by late 2019.

JEA currently buys sun-generated energy from a solar farm outside of Baldwin owned by PSEG Solar Source LLC. That plant generates enough electricity to power approximately 1,450 households a year, according to JEA.

The contractor for the the Florida Municipal Project is NextEra Florida Renewables, LLC in Juno Beach. NextEra Energy, Inc., also in Juno Beach, is the parent company of FPL and NextEra Florida Renewables, LLC.

FMPA is a wholesale power agency owned by 31 municipal electric utilities.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.