This week, hundreds of community members gathered in an open field on Tallahassee International Airport (TLH) property to join leaders with the City of Tallahassee and Origis Energy to break ground on a new 20 megawatt (MW) solar farm. Once complete, the 120-acre solar farm will be capable of producing 37 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity each year – enough to power 3,400 homes and businesses in the Sunshine State's capital.
"As Florida's Capital City, we are thrilled to harness the Sunshine State's most renewable energy source for our community's use," Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum said. "Offering Tallahassee residents the ability to customize their participation in our solar program is an innovative way to keep our City Utility among the best in the nation, and ensure we are preserving our energy resources for years to come."
Approximately 90,000 photovoltaic solar panels will make up the farm, which will be constructed and operated by Origis Energy. When completed this fall, the solar farm will be one of the largest in Florida.
"The vision, professionalism and strategic consideration the City utility and leadership have shown throughout the development process has been truly inspiring," said Johan Vanhee, managing director of operations and business development for Origis Energy USA. Vanhee, who spoke at the ground-breaking event, went on to say, "The City of Tallahassee leads the state of Florida in solar development. This includes their use of solar as a clean energy source and their innovative Tallahassee Solar subscription program."
Energy produced by the solar farm will feed into the City's electric grid. Tallahassee Solar allows customers the opportunity to customize their participation level in the program at 25, 50 or 100 percent.
"This program represents a collaborative effort among our City government, citizens and private organizations," said Steve Urse, member of Sustainable Tallahassee and the City's Utilities Citizen Advisory Committee. "It provides us with access to solar energy without the up-front costs of installing solar panels, which is key in encouraging more and more people to use clean, renewable energy."
Earlier this year, the Tallahassee City Commission approved staff to move forward with planning a second solar farm. The second 40 MW solar farm is expected to produce enough energy to power an additional 6,800 homes and businesses.