By Ken Jackson
The Osceola Solar Facility, that looks like a farm of 15,000 solar panels along South Canoe Creek Road between St. Cloud and Kenansville is already soaking up the sun, having been opened earlier this year.
On Monday, Duke Energy officials joined Osceola County
commissioners in officially commemorating its official opening by signing a commemorative solar panel that will be displayed in the commission’s front office on the fourth floor of the County Administration Building.
The new Duke Energy owned and operated Osceola Solar Facility, which first began commercially operating in May, is about the size of 13 football fields and produces 3.8 megawatts of carbon-free energy, enough to power 760 homes at full production capacity.
The facility was built on 17 acres of a larger 25-acre parcel owned by Duke Energy Florida, which includes an existing substation that allowed the new solar facility to be connected to the power grid without extensive new line construction, Duke officials said.
Osceola County Commissioner Fred Hawkins, Jr., whose district 5 includes where the solar farm was built, signed the commemorative panel really big with a note, “Welcome to Osceola County.
“When you say Kenansville, people automatically think agriculture. Now they can think technology, too,” he said. “Solar is a new type of ‘farming’ for my district, one with a positive environmental impact. Adding a renewable source like solar gives Duke Energy customers a more balanced energy mix and that’s more important today than ever before.”
The solar plants are part of Duke’s strategic long-range plan to install 35 megawatts of solar power by 2018 and up to 500 megawatts of solar power in the state by 2024, ensuring a larger base of clean energy, a company press release said.
These projects will allow the company to meet a significant need for additional energy for Florida’s growing population starting in 2018, and retire half of its Florida coal-fired fleet by that same year.
“As the cost of solar energy continues to decrease and the efficiency of panels grows, we’re increasing our investments in solar,” 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.”