First Coast Area Solar Utility Projects Growing Rapidly

May 25, 2018

FPL has hit a new milestone in Putnam County: nearly a half-million solar panels.

The utility and Putnam County leaders marked the achievement Thursday with tour of the Coral Farms Solar Energy Center.

The 578-acre site can supply enough energy to power nearly 15,000 homes, according to FPL.

"The FPL Coral Farms Solar Energy Center you see behind me is 74-and-a-half megawatts and comprises 330,000 solar panels," said FPL spokesperson Stephen Heiman. "We built eight solar plants in this past year. Two of which were installed here in Putnam."

FPL says the amount of energy produced by the solar farm is the equivalent of removing 12,000 cars from the road each year.

The utility operates 14 solar power plants in Florida with an additional four set to open next year.

Other area utilities are also upping their investment in solar. JEA plans to build five new solar farms on the First Coast by late 2019 and Beaches Energy has joined one of the largest municipal-backed solar projects in the U.S.

Beaches Energy, which services Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach, Ponte Vedra and Palm Valley, has joined with 11 other Florida utilities to build three solar farms in Osceola and Orange counties.

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

The city of Jacksonville is also positioning the Westside to be a solar panel manufacturing center.

Our Daily Record news partner reports Shanghai-based JinkoSolar agreed to open a 200-job solar-panel plant at AllianceFlorida at Cecil Commerce Center with the support of city and state incentives.

JinkoSolar is targeting an initial Jacksonville launch in September or October.

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