For years, solar energy has been an ironic afterthought in Sunshine State, particularly among utilities keen on pursuing natural gas, nuclear and legacy coal options for power.
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), a Washington-D.C.-based nonprofit, considers Florida as having the third-highest potential for solar energy. But with just over 700 megawatts installed, the state ranks at No. 13 nationally for current solar capability.
“We consider Florida as the ‘Sunshine State’ to have under-performed its potential,” said Sean Gallagher, SEIA vice president for state affairs.
But that’s changing — perhaps dramatically.
Florida’s marketplace for solar, Gallagher said, has doubled over the past year. Just this week, Duke Energy Florida announced it intends to build 700 megawatts of solar power over the next four years, dwarfing its current 20 megwatts. Florida Power & Light, which already has 335 megawatts of solar power, plans to build 2,100 additional megawatts by 2023. And the city of St. Petersburg briefly went as far as considering a proposal that would require residents with homes larger than 1,100 square feet to have rooftop solar capabilities. [click for full Tampa Bay Times article]