Gulf Power recently finished installation of the first solar panels at Blue Indigo Solar Energy Center in Jackson County, its first wholly owned and operated solar energy center that is under construction on nearly 700 acres located adjacent to Jacob City.
“Gulf Power is committed to developing cleaner energy and reducing carbon emissions while ensuring long-term reliability and lower costs for customers,” said Marlene Santos, Gulf Power president. “We are proud to mark this historic milestone as we advance solar here in Northwest Florida, and look forward to celebrating the completion of our Blue Indigo solar energy center.”
Construction began May 1 on the solar energy center, and the project is on track to be completed in early 2020. Once completed, approximately 300,000 solar panels will capture energy from the sun to generate 74.5 megawatts of zero-emissions, cost-effective renewable energy – enough to power approximately 15,000 homes annually and prevent emissions equivalent to removing 12,000 cars from the road every year. In addition, the new solar energy center is expected to save customers millions of dollars in avoided fuel and other costs over the long term.
Working with its sister company, Florida Power & Light Company (FPL), Gulf Power is able to capture economies of scale, such as purchasing solar panels in bulk, and leverage FPL’s expertise to build its new solar energy center more efficiently and cost-effectively.
In addition to the Blue Indigo Solar Center, Gulf Power is developing a second solar energy center in Jackson County — Blue Springs Solar Energy Center — which will add another 74.5 megawatts of energy to the electric grid. The company continues to evaluate other potential sites in Northwest Florida for additional solar energy centers.
“We know our customers want cleaner energy solutions, and we’re looking forward to bringing them even more clean, emissions-free solar,” Santos said. “In addition to creating hundreds of construction jobs, adding solar can bring additional tax revenue and other benefits that are vital to the economic well-being and quality of life for our communities.”
Approximately 11% of Gulf Power’s energy mix is presently from renewable sources such as landfill-gas-to-energy, wind from Oklahoma and three solar energy fields on military bases across Northwest Florida. Combined, those solar ﬁelds, built in partnership with the Department of Defense and a third-party developer, consist of 1.5 million solar panels and are capable of generating up to 120 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 20,000 homes.
Gulf Power is now a subsidiary of Florida-based NextEra Energy, the world’s largest producer of renewable energy from the wind and sun. Its sister company FPL is the largest generator of solar power in Florida with 18 solar power plants in operation and another 10 currently under construction and expected to be operational in early 2020. FPL is working toward a goal of “30-by-30,” a groundbreaking plan to install 30 million solar panels by 2030 – helping to make Florida a world leader in solar energy generation.