he route to FPL Coral Farms Solar Energy Center runs down a two-lane country road, turns at a weather-beaten sign advertising “Corn and Hay Sales,” and ambles down an unpaved road past a house with a tractor in the yard. There is the huge field filled with 330,000 gleaming solar panels.
The opening in January of the Coral Farms solar farm, located 18 miles from Palatka, and another Florida Power & Light solar center straddling the Putnam-Alachua county line makes Putnam County home to the largest collection of solar farms in Northeast Florida.
Duval County could soon overtake Putnam County for that distinction. JEA plans to team up with a private company for construction of five solar farms through 2020 that will collectively produce as much electricity as a small natural gas plant, turning JEA from a below-average utility in terms of solar power to a utility that is well above average for Florida, according to the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
In a sign of how heated the solar industry is becoming, JEA’s decision to award a contract for the construction of those solar firms triggered a bid protest scheduled to be heard Wednesday.
JEA determined the top-ranked firm is groSolar/EDF, which is one of the largest renewable energy developers in the country. That selection is under challenge by the second-ranked firm Florida Renewable Partners, a NextEra Energy company. [click for full article]