Utility Plans to Build Solar Plants at Three Florida Airfields

Gulf Power, a subsidiary of Georgia-based Southern Co., is planning to build a total of 120 megawatts of solar power at three military facilities on the tip of the Florida Panhandle — Eglin Air Force Base and the Navy’s Holley and Saufley fields.

If the solar farms are approved by the Florida Public Service Commission, the project’s developer, HelioSage, would begin construction in February 2016. The three plants would be expected to come online beginning in December 2016. The planned capacity for each of the solar farms is as follows:

  • Eglin AFB in Fort Walton Beach (30 megawatts);
  • Holley Field in Navarre (40 megawatts); and
  • Saufley Field in Pensacola (50 megawatts).

The utility will serve its customers across Northwest Florida with power from the new solar facilities. The solar farms will help diversify Gulf Power’s energy supply and provide a cost-effective alternative during peak energy usage, reported the Pensacola News Journal.

In addition to helping the Air Force meet the twin goals of obtaining 25 percent of its energy consumption from renewable sources by 2025 and establishing 1 gigawatt of onsite capacity by 2016, the project will make good use of Air Force property.

“This project exemplifies how a regional utility provider like Gulf Power can effectively partner with the Air Force to achieve common renewable energy and asset-optimization objectives,” said Dave Funk, strategic asset utilization division chief for the Air Force Civil Engineer Center. “The proposed agreement is expected to optimize the value of 240 acres of non-excess Air Force real estate through the development and operation of a ground-mounted solar photovoltaic facility, which will directly benefit Gulf Power, Eglin Air Force Base, and the local community.”

The project provides an opportunity for the Navy to make its local, state and industry partners aware of its overall strategy and commitment to renewable energy, according to Capt. Keith Hoskins, commanding officer of Naval Air Station Pensacola.

“This project will provide a potential benefit to the U.S. Navy in providing energy security during outages to allow seamless operation of our critical assets,” Hoskins said.

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