Executives from Gulf Power and Coronal Energy joined officials from Eglin Air Force Base and Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola's Navy Outlying Landing Field (NOLF) Saufley for the installation of the first two solar photovoltaic panels on two solar projects. Along with a third project at NAS Whiting Field's NOLF Holley, they together make up the 120MWac Gulf Coast Solar Center Portfolio.
When complete, the 120MWac portfolio will include approximately 1.5 million solar panels and generate enough electricity to power approximately 18,000 homes annually.
"These projects exemplify our commitment to leveraging strong partnerships and innovative solutions to develop large-scale solar projects that deliver clean energy to a diverse set of customers," said Jonathan Jaffrey, chairman and CEO of Coronal Energy™. "The collaborative approach to the development of the Gulf Coast Solar Center Portfolio represents a smarter approach to pursuing solar energy, and may serve as a model for future public/private sector renewable energy initiatives."
Coronal Energy is constructing the three facilities on Department of Defense property in Northwest Florida: one at NAS Pensacola's NOLF Saufley, one on NAS Whiting Field's NOLF Holley, and one at Eglin Air Force Base. Construction began at all three locations in November and all are expected to become operational during the summer of 2017.
"We're proud to work with Coronal Energy, powered by Panasonic, the Air Force and the Navy as we work toward meeting critical energy needs as well as the energy needs of the region," said Connally. "Gulf Power is investing in smart renewables such as these solar projects that make economic sense for our customers as part of a balanced energy mix."
Jim Doyle, president of Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Company, added: "Solar is the world's fastest-growing energy source. With these projects, Gulf Power — in cooperation with the Air Force and the Navy — takes a big step forward adding clean, resilient, domestic renewable energy to its portfolio for the benefit of its customers. They're showing how going solar translates to smart business and smart government, not just for residents and businesses in Florida but also across the country."
"We continually seek to balance the military mission with the stewardship of this environmental national treasure and look for innovative ways to excel in both arenas," said Col. Craig Johnson, 96th Civil Engineer Group commander at Eglin AFB. "This project does that by leasing 240 acres of underused land to Gulf Power and in turn Eglin AFB will receive lease payments we will use to improve the energy resiliency of our installation. At the same time, the project will provide a substantial amount of clean energy back to Eglin and the surrounding community."
"It's rewarding to be part of this project, which will provide an opportunity for us to assist local and state partners in understanding the Department of the Navy's overall strategy and commitment for renewable energy," said NAS Pensacola Commanding Officer Capt. Christopher Martin.
"It is gratifying to be part of a partnership that truly is beneficial to everyone," NAS Whiting Field Commanding Officer Capt. Todd Bahlau stated. "This effort will develop cost-effective, renewable sources of energy, which will also enhance the Navy's energy security. Our team is excited to play a role in this collaborative project."
Together, these facilities will be among the largest photovoltaic arrays in Florida and have the potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 3.5 million U.S. tons over 25 years. Combined they will be one of the largest solar projects east of the Mississippi.
The solar facilities are estimated to generate the following amounts of energy:
- NAS Pensacola's NOLF Saufley: approximately 600,000 photovoltaic panels with a capacity of 50MW producing enough energy to power nearly 7,400 Escambia County homes for a year
- NAS Whiting Field's NOLF Holley: approximately 475,000 photovoltaic panels with a capacity of 40MW producing enough energy to power nearly 6,100 Santa Rosa County homes for a year
- Eglin Air Force Base: approximately 375,000 photovoltaic panels with a capacity of 30MW producing enough energy to power nearly 4,500 Okaloosa County homes for a year