400 Megawatt Solar Plant Planned for Florida’s Panhandle

Photo credit: National Solar Power

National Solar Power has selected Gadsden County, Florida as the site of what’s slated to be the largest solar power farm in the US Southeast. The Sunshine State’s “Big Bend” region will be home to National Solar’s planned 400-megawatt (MW) solar PV farm, which is expected to create around 400 jobs during the five-year construction phase and as many as 120 in permanent operations at an average annual salary of $40,000. How’s that for job creation?

National Solar Power is investing some $1.5 billion in the project, which is forecast to generate enough electrical power for around 32,000 homes. A minimum of 20 solar farms will be built on 200-acre sites at a cost of $70 million each. A power purchase agreement with Progress Energy Florida is in place, and the company is negotiating with other electric power providers for additional long-term purchases.

Hundreds of millions of dollars will be injected into the North Florida area’s economy as a result. Hensel Phelps Construction Co. will design, build and operate the solar farms.

The first phase of the project is due to be up and operational within six months of breaking ground, which will take place upon National Solar receiving all appropriate local and state permitting.

Sunshine State Living Up to Its Name

“It’s great to see innovative companies like National Solar Power choose to make their headquarters in Florida,” Florida Governor Rick Scott said at a press conference. “It’s only fitting that America’s ‘Sunshine State’ shines brightest in attracting this significant economic engine to make its home here.”

“Governor Scott and his team played an instrumental role in securing this project for Florida and persuaded us that the Sunshine State deserved to win the right to host our exciting solar project – and it’s a real bonus that this is our home state, too,” National Solar Power CEO James Scrivener added.

Scrivener also outlined the company’s plans to establish a solar educational and training center at Tallahassee Community College (TCC). Plans for the center include building a 2MW utility-scale solar farm.

Community Commitment

“National Solar Power is making a strong commitment to education in our area – not only with the establishment of the solar farm on our campus but also with the jobs that will be created in Gadsden County and the economic development benefits that will flow to help Gadsden County’s schools, students and residents,” stated TCC President, Dr. Jim Murdaugh.

“It is projected that by 2060, solar energy will meet half of all the world’s energy needs. When you realize that, it makes sense to partner with National Solar Power to provide our students with the kind of education and training that will be available at the TCC-Gadsden Solar Farm.”

Gadsden County won out over three other finalists in what was a lengthy and rigorous evaluation process. National Solar announced in August that it had narrowed the field down to four possible locations.

National Solar continues to discuss expanding with representatives from the other three sites — located in Florida, Georgian and North Carolina — for future expansion. Discussions are furthest along with representatives from Florida’s Hardee County, according to the press release.

An independent journalist, researcher and writer, my work roams across the nexus where ecology, technology, political economy and sociology intersect and overlap. The lifelong quest for knowledge of the world and self -- not to mention gainful employment -- has led me near and far afield, from Europe, across the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa and back home to the Americas. LinkedIn: andrew burger Google+: Andrew B Email: huginn.muggin@gmail.com

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