JEA Plans 7th Solar Farm In North Jacksonville

Oct 29, 2018

A solar farm expected to come online this year in North Jacksonville will add 5 megawatts to JEA’s energy portfolio.  

The SunPort Solar Farm is planned on 66.3 acres near Lem Turner Road by Newcomb Road and Interstate 295. 

Plans filed with the city and the St. Johns River Water Management District show that Melbourne-based National Solar LLC will develop the project. 

National Solar applied to the water management district for an environmental resource permit.

The company seeks to modify a previous permit application to change the property’s intended use from industrial to solar farm. 

Plans submitted to the city indicate National Solar will be able to produce about 5 megawatts of power, or 5 million watts, through a series of nearly 28,000 photovoltaic solar modules. 

Depending on conditions, 1 MW can power 800 to 1,000 homes at one time. 

SunCap Southeast Industrial Joint Venture LLC owns the more than 500-acre property. 

Asked for comment, SunCap responded in an email that the company is “bound by a confidentiality agreement and cannot comment at this time.”

Jason Bria, vice president of Charlotte, North Carolina-based SunCap, and James Scrivener of Imeson Solar Farm LLC in Melbourne are listed as joint applicants on the water management district documents. 

National Solar LLC is listed as a registered agent for Imeson Solar Farm LLC, according to state records. 

Scrivener, National Solar’s chief executive officer, declined to comment. 

Prosser Inc. is listed as the engineer. 

JEA Solar Push

Solar energy is part of JEA’s effort to diversify its power production. 

JEA is involved with 13 solar energy sites in Jacksonville, including the SunPort Solar Farm. 

JEA spokeswoman Gerri Boyce said the utility has a power-purchase agreement with National Solar that includes a 4 megawatt-hour battery as part of the system.  

“The developer is leasing the land and performing all permitting,” Boyce said. 

She said the SunPort Solar Farm is the final project in the utility’s 2014 solar initiative.  

“JEA has added six other projects, totaling 22 MW, under a similar structure,” she said by email.

Boyce said the first project came online in May 2017 and the most recent, a 1 MW facility on Old Kings Road, came online this month. 

Through other power purchase agreements, JEA is developing five 50 MW solar energy farms in North and West Jacksonville. 

They include the 400-acre Beaver Street Solar Center and the 400-acre Cecil Commerce Solar Center, both in West Jacksonville. Those sites are on land that JEA acquired.

JEA recently committed $34.4 million for three additional sites. 

JEA paid $18.8 million for 1,895 acres in West Jacksonville to develop the Deep Creek Solar Center; purchased another 952 acres for $9 million for the Westlake Solar Center, also in West Jacksonville; and has another 600.98 acres in Northwest Jacksonville under contract for $6.6 million to build the Forest Trail Solar Center. 

The utility partnered with EDF Renewables North America Inc. on the power-purchase agreements, leases and interconnection agreements. 

EDF will own the farms, while JEA owns the land under the 25-year agreement.

The “take and pay” agreement means JEA  pays for the energy delivered through the farms. 

JEA pays for the land and interconnections in advance of about $67 million. 

Together, the five sites are expected to produce 610,000 MWh annually.

A watt is the rate at which energy is produced and watt-hours measure power over time.

Alternative Energy

The 250 MW program is an alternative to the 200 MW in nuclear energy JEA is contractually obligated to buy through an agreement with the owners of the Plant Vogtle expansion in Georgia. 

JEA is suing to terminate the power purchase agreement it has with Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia to buy nuclear energy from the construction of two new nuclear reactors at the site, just south of Augusta, Georgia.  

JEA signed a 20-year agreement with MEAG in 2008.

Once expected at less than $10 billion, construction costs continue to increase and are estimated to exceed $28 billion when the first reactor comes online in 2022. 

As construction costs increase, so does the financial obligation to JEA and its ratepayers, which now is about $2.5 billion. 

JEA is suing MEAG in the 4th Judicial Circuit Court, arguing that its board of directors did not have legal authority to enter the agreement in 2008. In turn, MEAG sued JEA in Georgia federal court for trying to get out of the deal. 

In September, Plant Vogtle’s owners voted to continue the project, despite cost overruns.