For full article see: Tallahassee Democrat
It may be a long, cold lonely winter, but here comes the sun.
On Jan. 1, a $33.2 million, 20 megawatt solar farm will be connected to Tallahassee’s energy grid, giving thousands of customers the option of lighting up their lives with energy harvested from the sun.
The solar farm, built without taxpayer dollars and run by the Miami-based Origis Energy USA under contract to the City of Tallahassee Utilities Department, is made up of 234,000 glass panels spread over 120 acres owned by Tallahassee International Airport.
That’s the size of 92 football fields. Or 27 super class aircraft carriers.
Construction was completed this month, and it will officially be integrated into the city’s power grid on Jan.1, producing up to 37 million kilowatts of power, or 2 percent of the city’s total power supply — enough to light up 3,400 homes. And it will help reduce the city’s carbon dioxide footprint by 18,000 tons a year.
Acting City Manager Reese Goad called it a milestone in the city’s progress toward relying totally on renewable energy.
“This is another great step in Tallahassee’s efforts to be a leader in implementing sustainable energy practices,” Goad said.
The solar farm was built on 120 acres between the north-south runway and Springhill Road that the airport is leasing to the Utilities Department for 33 years. Both are overseen by the city.
The utilities department contracted with Origis to sell the electricity to the city at an agreed-upon price schedule for the first 20 years under a purchase power agreement approved by the City Commission. As long as Origis is producing electricity, the Utilities department will pay the $60,000 annual lease to the airport for the property.
“Origis did all the financing and construction,” Utilities Director Rob McGarrah said. “They own the facility.”
The city will pay Origis for the energy produced and delivered to the city over the life of the purchase power agreement, he added. The city has two five-year renewal options at the end of the 20-year agreement.
The company hired 185 of the 223 crew members from the Tallahassee area to assist with construction, city officials said.
According to its website, Origis began building solar projects in Belgium in 2008 and has since completed more than 150 commercial, public sector and utility projects in the U.S., Europe and Latin America totaling more than 600 megawatts of solar capacity.
Florida Department of State Division of Corporations records show Origis is a Delaware for-profit corporation that has been operating in Florida since 2013.