Earlier this year, National Solar Power announced that it had narrowed its list of potential sites for its 400MW solar project to seven counties in the US southeast. After months of deliberation the company made its final decision with plans to build what is being called the largest solar farm in the US southeast in Gadsden County, Florida. While its final decision has been made, National Solar Power does note that the six other counties in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina will continue to be considered for future solar farm projects.
The company acknowledged that several factors influenced its final decision to build in Gadsden County, but one of the largest influences came in the partnership National Solar Power will establish with Tallahassee Community College (TCC). The two organizations plan to co-create a solar energy educational and training center, which will feature a 2MW utility scale solar farm at the Gadsden County TCC campus, which will further education and training for the Gadsden County site.
“National Solar Power is making a strong commitment to education in our area – not only with the establishment of the solar farm on our campus but also with the jobs that will be created in Gadsden County and the economic development benefits that will flow to help Gadsden County’s schools, students and residents,” said TCC President, Dr. Jim Murdaugh. “It is projected that by 2060, solar energy will meet half of all the world’s energy needs. When you realize that, it makes sense to partner with National Solar Power to provide our students with the kind of education and training that will be available at the TCC-Gadsden Solar Farm.”
The solar project is anticipated to create 400 jobs during the five-year construction period and up to 120 permanent operation jobs. Once the necessary local and state permitting process is finalized, the first phase is expected to be completed within six months of breaking ground. The company expects that most of the energy produced at the site will be used for peak shaving, especially for energy production that will occur during the summer months.
Hensel Phelps will design, build and operate the minimum of 20 solar farms that will be built on a 200-acre site in Gadsden County. Each site holds a US$70 million cost, for which National Solar Power is negotiating with financial institutions and private equity investor to provide project financing. The company has signed an agreement with Progress Energy Florida to purchase the power produced at the 400MW solar project and is undergoing discussions with other customers that can potentially buy electricity produced at the site.