Solar Power on the Rise in Florida Cities

Solar power in the Sunshine State was on the rise last year thanks to a group of municipal electric utilities and their customers.
The 14 municipal utilities that own Florida Municipal Power Agency’s (FMPA) All-Requirements Project increased their solar generating capacity by nearly 30 percent in 2011. The new solar generation includes innovative grant-funded demonstration projects, as well as customer-owned installations.

“Partnerships with local customers and federal grant programs have given FMPA’s members unique opportunities to expand our renewable generation in a cost-effective way,” said FMPA General Manager and CEO Nicholas Guarriello.

Four cities receive grants for renewable generation
Four All-Requirements member cities received federal grants to develop renewable energy demonstration projects. The renewable generators serve municipal facilities and provide an educational component to inform the local community about renewable power.

Three cities, Green Cove Springs, Newberry and Starke, installed solar photovoltaic generation in 2011. Keys Energy Services, the municipal utility serving Key West and the lower Florida Keys, installed two wind turbines in February 2012 and installed a solar photovoltaic generator in March 2012.

Residential solar owners offset their electric bill through net metering
Partnering with local homeowners and businesses is also an important part of FMPA members’ role in promoting renewable energy. FMPA’s All-Requirements members do this by offering a program called net metering.

Net metering is a service option that permits customer-owned renewable generation to be interconnected with the utility’s distribution system and used to offset part or all of a customer’s electric usage. The customer is paid through their monthly bill for any excess generation their system delivers into the utility’s distribution system.

The number of customers participating in this program in FMPA’s All-Requirements cities increased by more than 20 percent in 2011. More than 100 customers in 11 cities participate in the All-Requirements Project’s net metering program, with a total of 705 kW of installed capacity.

The FMPA All-Requirements cities that offer net metering include Bushnell, Clewiston, Fort Meade, Fort Pierce, Green Cove Springs, Havana, Jacksonville Beach, Key West, Kissimmee, Lake Worth, Leesburg, Newberry, Ocala and Starke. Electric customers in these cities should contact their local utility for more information on how to qualify for and implement a net metering agreement.

  Solar panels were installed at the Starke Fire Department in September 2011 thanks to a federal grant for renewable energy demonstration projects. (Image courtesy of the city of Starke.)

  The city of Newberry’s first solar generation was installed in January 2012 and supplies more than 10 kW of electricity to municipal facilities. (Image courtesy of the city of Newberry).

 Solar panels overlook the waterfront on Stock Island in the Florida Keys in March. Keys Energy Services now manages two solar installations and a wind demonstration project. (Image courtesy of Keys Energy Services).

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