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New 8.8 MW solar plant in Suwannee County completed

Last week Suwannee County elected officials and community leaders joined Duke Energy at a commemorative ribbon cutting and solar panel signing ceremony to celebrate the opening of a new 70 acre facility, located at 4020 River Road in Live Oak. -Photo: Submitted

Submitted by Ana Gibbs - Duke Energy

Company plans to develop up to 700 megawatts of solar by 2021.

Duke Energy Florida customers are now benefiting from an additional 8.8 megawatts (MW) of solar, a carbon-free renewable resource in the Sunshine State.

The company’s newest solar power plant contains nearly 44,000 solar panels on 70 acres in Suwannee County.

Last week elected officials and community leaders joined Duke Energy at a commemorative ribbon cutting and solar panel signing ceremony at 10 a.m. to celebrate the opening. The facility is located at 4020 River Road, Live Oak, Fla., just east of the existing Suwannee power plant.

“We are proud of our newest solar power plant and excited about our future solar development in Florida,” said Harry Sideris, Duke Energy Florida state president. “In the next four years, we will be adding up to 700 MW of new solar generation as part of our ongoing strategy to offer cleaner, smarter energy solutions that customers value in the Sunshine State.”

Duke Energy Florida’s Suwannee Solar Facility began operating in November. Solar projects enable the company to efficiently bring the greatest amount of renewable energy online for customers in the most economical way.

The company retired three natural gas units at the Suwannee power plant December 2016. Originally the units, built in the early 1950s, were oil-fired. The steam units were converted to run on natural gas and generated 129 MW. Three other 1980s era clean-burning, natural gas units, capable of generating 155 MW, remain in operation on the plant site as part of the system that supplies extra energy when demand from customers is the greatest.
Plans to build additional solar

A settlement agreement approved by the Florida Public Service Commission will allow the company to add up to 700 (MW) of cost-effective solar over the next four years, accelerating the company’s previous 10-year solar installation plan. The company plans to begin construction of its sixth Florida solar power plant to be located in Hamilton County in 2018. The plant will have approximately 300,000 solar panels and will be built on nearly 550 acres of land in Jasper.

The 74.9-MW Hamilton Solar Plant will produce clean, emissions-free energy, which will be enough to power more than 20,000 homes at peak production.