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Mar. 6, 2014

Orlando’s First Community Solar Farm Started Production in OUC’s Gardenia Campus

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

ESA Renewables has recently announced the completion of the first community solar farm in Orlando. The 2.5-acre array has a 400 kW output and as a community solar farm, it is only the second of its kind in the whole of the Sunshine State.

Set up in the parking area of Orlando Utilities Commission’s Gardenia Campus at 3800 Gardenia Avenue, the panels are expected to produce about 540,000 kWh a year while also providing shade for the cars parking underneath them. The output should be enough to meet the power needs of 40 homes and is the equivalent to avoiding 949,316 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.

Not long ago, OUC has offered customers the opportunity to purchase blocks of solar power and this resulted in a smashing success, the 39 subscriptions having been sold out in less than a week. For an optional number of solar power blocks up to 15 kW, subscribers will pay a fixed rate for 25 years. The amount of energy produced by these blocks appears on their monthly electricity bills. In other words, the method is similar to rooftop panels, sparing subscribers the trouble of up-front expenses, installation or equipment maintenance costs. It also allows renters and condo owners to join the club, as well as customers whose rooftops are shaded by trees or nearby buildings.

The array was commissioned in October by ESA and has been acquired by Spear Point Energy. Further companies involved in the project include Sylvester and Cockrum, ReneSola, Advanced Energy, Chint and Schletter. OUC has agreed to purchase the generated power from Spear Point Energy under a 25-year power purchase agreement.

Photo credits: Orlando Utilities Commission

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