Florida Municipal Electric Association, Nhu Energy and Florida Energy Office Awarded Major Federal Grant to Bring More Solar Energy to the Sunshine State

Florida team selected through a competitive evaluation process

Joining together under the name Florida Alliance for Accelerating Solar and Storage Technology Readiness (FAASSTeR), the Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA), Nhu Energy and the Florida Energy Office have been awarded a $1.75 million grant through the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative to increase the growth of solar energy in Florida by developing new and innovative ways to use it in combination with energy storage and other resources. Rounding out the FAASSTeR team to provide research and analysis support are the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and Florida’s municipal and cooperative electric utilities.

With this funding, FAASSTeR will lead a three-year project that includes detailed solar energy and power system studies and analysis, and development of strategies that will expand solar, energy storage and other distributed energy resources in Florida. The Florida-focused work is expected to unlock additional value for consumers and reveal new and more efficient ways to make use of solar energy, as well as ways to better store solar energy – a resource that can be intermittent in nature.

Currently, all forms of renewable energy – including, but not limited to solar – account for less than 1 percent of Florida’s power generation capacity. Through the FAASSTeR project, FMEA member utilities are aiming to increase solar energy capacity and enhance the value it provides to their customers when increasingly integrated with other resources and into system planning and operations.

“While solar energy is one of the most promising new energy sources, more work is needed on strategies to extract the full value of this resource at higher levels of deployment while leveraging it to sustain and improve the reliability, resiliency, affordability, and quality of service we’ve come to expect,” said Rick Meeker, President of Nhu Energy and FAASSTeR project lead. “Important elements of future strategies that will successfully grow our use of solar include using it intelligently in combination with other resources, such as energy storage, and making it a more integrated part of the overall power delivery system.”

Florida’s municipal electric utilities will also play a key role in the project. A Utility Core Team has been formed to participate in the project, which includes the City of Tallahassee electric utility, Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU), JEA (Jacksonville), Lakeland Electric, Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) and Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA). These utilities will help guide the project, provide data and could potentially pilot new strategies and ideas that emerge as the project progresses.

FMEA’s role in the project is to provide input and guidance, to coordinate and facilitate communications with and involvement of the larger Florida municipal electric utility community beyond the Utility Core Team, to provide significant assistance in planning and conducting periodic workshops and meetings, and to advise and assist in outreach and education related to the project.

Florida’s public power communities have already invested significantly in solar power. Examples from FMEA member communities include large scale and community solar farms, to residential and commercial rooftop solar.

“Solar will be an important part of our energy portfolio going forward and we’re excited to be a part of a project that will aid in the successful expansion of solar energy in Florida. And, we’re hopeful that what we learn over the course of the next three years can guide other states and communities in their efforts to harness the power of the sun,” said Amy Zubaly, FMEA Interim Executive Director. “Taking part in this project provides FMEA and Florida’s municipal utilities with a unique opportunity to build on an exceptional history of customer service, leadership and innovation that will help shape Florida’s energy future.”

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