Gulf Power partners with Navy and Air Force on one of Florida’s largest solar projects
Gulf Power joined forces today with the Departments of the Navy and the Air Force during a ground breaking ceremony at Naval Air Station Pensacola, marking the start of construction for three large-scale solar electric generating facilities.
Combined, these facilities will have approximately 1.5 million solar panels that could generate up to120 megawatts of electricity, enough energy to power roughly 18,000 homes on a sunny day.
Gulf Power and its third party developer, Coronal Development Services, will construct three facilities—one at NAS Pensacola Saufley Field, one at NAS Whiting Field and one at Eglin Air Force Base.
On April 16, 2015, the Florida Public Service Commission approved all three project plans.
Stan Connally, president and CEO of Gulf Power, took part in the ceremony alongside of Dennis V. McGinn, assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations and environment; Miranda A.A. Ballentine, assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and energy; Capt. Keith W. Hoskins, commanding officer, NAS Pensacola; Capt. Todd A. Bahlau, commanding officer, NAS Whiting Field; and Col. Matthew W. Higer, vice commander, 96th Test Wing, Eglin Air Force Base.
These initiatives support the Department of Defense’s commitment to renewable energy and show the joint leadership displayed in pursuit of energy security.
According to Stan Connally, Gulf Power President and CEO, these solar projects also help Gulf Power to further diversify its energy portfolio and support the mission to provide safe, affordable and reliable energy to its Northwest Florida customers.
“This is an important collaboration between Gulf Power, the Navy and Air Force,” said Connally. “Through careful planning, we’ve been able to work alongside our military partners to help support solutions for them to meet federal renewable energy and energy conservation mandates, while Gulf Power pursues cost-effective forms of renewable energy for our customers.”
Secretary McGinn said the collaboration between Gulf Power and the Department of the Navy to construct new solar facilities on Florida Navy installations will have a myriad of benefits.
“Together, we can provide physical security to the assets, increase the regional grid resiliency and upgrade the energy infrastructure where our Sailors and Aviators live and work, as well as stimulate economic activity through development. Energy, the economy, the environment and our national security are bound together; you cannot affect one without affecting the others, and these projects have positive benefits in all four dimensions,” he said.
Secretary Ballentine said this type of enhanced use lease highlights how public-private collaboration benefits the Air Force, industry and local communities.
“The Air Force is focused on using these types of partnerships as a viable business model to improve the service’s energy resiliency and provide mission assurance through energy assurance,” she said. “Renewable energy projects like this are good for the nation because it increases grid diversity, improves resiliency, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.”
Together, these facilities will be the largest photovoltaic arrays in Florida and have the potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 4.6 million tons. It will also be one of the largest solar projects east of the Mississippi.
The parties anticipate the solar facilities to be operational by December 2016 and serve all Gulf Power customers. Once operational, the respective facilities are estimated to generate the following numbers on a sunny day:
Gulf Power is an investor-owned electric utility with all of its common stock owned by Atlanta-based Southern Company. Gulf Power serves more than 447,000 customers in eight counties throughout Northwest Florida. The company’s mission is to safely provide exceptional customer value by delivering reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible electricity while strengthening our communities. Visit online at MyGulfPower.com or on the company’s Facebook page. News information can be found at GulfPowerNews.com.