Florida has been a battleground state for solar in the past, but thanks to strong policy solar has begun taking off in the sunshine state.
Tallahassee is the most recent city building out more solar power with a 20 MW community solar farm. This is the city’s first solar plant, and construction has already begun. This is great news for Tallahassee residents who rent or can’t install solar on their home.
“Whether you live in a home that you own, or whether you live in a house that is shaded, or whether you live in a house that has full sun view but you may not be able to afford to make the individual investment to put solar on your own roof, everyone gets to benefit and participate in this program,” Mayor Andrew Gillum said.
City officials and the solar contractor Origis broke ground Tuesday, May 30th in an open field near the airport. Construction has just begun, but interest in the program is already brewing. Kim Ross with Rethink Energy Florida says the project is larger than she could have hoped.
“We initially proposed half a megawatt. And so we’re already at twenty megawatts and we’re heading to sixty in a couple years. That’s just really exciting. But we did that through just educating the community and getting information out there and asking people if they were interested,” Ross said. Rethink Energy Florida, the League of Women Voters and Sustainable Tallahassee collected the names of four hundred residents who are ready to join.
Solar subscriptions are first come, first served, and customers can opt to have twentyfive, fifty, or one hundred percent renewable electricity. Participants will lock in a fixed rate of 5 cents per kWh, for the next twenty years.
This is slightly higher than the 3.3 cent price tag of natural gas today. But, this is the cheapest natural gas has been in years and it’s unlikely to stay at that price over the long term.
The 20 MW array is scheduled to be up and running in the fall, when it will power the equivalent of 3,400 homes. The city is already planning a second solar array, which will be twice as big as this one.