Duke Energy Florida announces new solar power plant in Columbia County

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  • Separately, construction underway on previously announced 74.9-megawatt solar plant in Hamilton County

  • Together, the two solar plants will eliminate 645 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per year

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Duke Energy Florida today announced the location of its newest universal solar power plant, which will provide cleaner, smarter energy solutions to benefit its Florida customers.

The Columbia Solar Power Plant will be built on 580 acres in Fort White (Columbia County) Fla., off of Fry Road.

The 74.9-megawatt (MW) plant will consist of approximately 245,000 solar panels on the site, which will produce enough carbon-free energy to power over 20,000 average homes at peak production.

The company expects to break ground on the Columbia solar plant next year, with full operation in March 2020. The solar power plant will be owned, operated and maintained by Duke Energy Florida and developed by Core Solar, which has constructed other solar projects in Florida.

Separately, construction is underway at Duke Energy's previously announced Hamilton Solar Power Plant, which is also 74.9 MW in size, consisting of approximately 300,000 solar panels on 565 acres.

"Together, the Hamilton and Columbia solar power plants are expected to eliminate approximately 645 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions in Florida each year upon commercial operation. That's the equivalent of taking 63,000 passenger cars off the road," said Catherine Stempien, Duke Energy Florida president. "These projects represent our commitment to more fuel diversity in the state and to rapidly expand renewable generation for our Florida customers' benefit."

Hamilton and Columbia are the first projects the company has announced as part of Duke Energy Florida's commitment to construct or acquire 700 MW of solar generation between now and 2022.

"We applaud Duke Energy Florida for proactively working with stakeholders to embrace smart, 21st-century technologies that are good for consumers and the environment," said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. "Pursuit of large-scale solar, electric vehicles and battery storage are positive steps for our energy grid and the Sunshine State. We welcome Duke Energy's willingness to work with stakeholders on data collection and any rate design changes impacting customer-owned demand side solar."

Over the next decade, the company will also make strategic, targeted investments in additional solar power plants, battery storage technology, transportation electrification and a modernized power grid to help meet our customers' needs for diverse, reliable energy solutions.

Hamilton Solar Power Plant Construction Begins

Duke Energy Florida broke ground on the Hamilton Solar Power Plant in Jasper, Fla., in early July.

It is located along Southwest 69th Drive and Southwest 40th Avenue in Jasper, Fla. Once operational, the facility will be 74.9 megawatts in size, which is enough to power more than 20,000 homes at peak production. All of the electricity created from the project will be fed onto Duke Energy Florida's electric grid for the benefit of all of its 1.8 million customers. The project is expected to be finished later this year and was originally developed by Tradewind Energy Inc.

Large-scale solar sites efficiently deploy solar technology for the benefit of all customers. It offers a way for customers to enjoy the benefits of solar energy and provides Duke Energy with a clean, diverse fuel source.

Renewables Service Center

In addition to building universal solar in the Sunshine State, Duke Energy Florida is helping more than 350 residential and business customers per month interconnect their own private solar on their property.

The company established a renewables service center to make it easier for customers to interconnect. In the past five years, the number of customers who have interconnected their private solar increased by 670 percent.

Florida Public Service Commission Filing

Duke Energy Florida filed a request today with the Florida Public Service Commission to recover the actual investment costs associated with the Hamilton and Columbia solar power plants.

The impact to residential customers' rates is expected to be less than half a percent for each project. Commercial and industrial customers would see a similar change. 

For the Hamilton Solar Power Plant, the forecasted base rate increase would begin in the January 2019 billing period.  
For the Columbia Solar Power Plant, the forecasted base rate increase would begin in the April 2020 billing period.

Duke Energy Florida

Duke Energy Florida owns and operates a diverse generation mix, including natural gas, coal and renewables, providing about 9,300 megawatts of owned electric capacity to approximately 1.8 million customers in a 13,000-square-mile service area.

Duke Energy Florida is a subsidiary of Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK). Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is one of the largest energy holding companies in the U.S., with approximately 29,000 employees and a generating capacity of 49,500 megawatts. The company is transforming its customers' experience, modernizing its energy grid, generating cleaner energy and expanding its natural gas infrastructure to create a smarter energy future for the people and communities it serves.

The company's Electric Utilities and Infrastructure unit serves approximately 7.6 million retail electric customers in six states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. Its Gas Utilities and Infrastructure unit distributes natural gas to approximately 1.6 million customers in five states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. Its Commercial Renewables unit operates a growing renewable energy portfolio across the U.S.

A Fortune 125 company, Duke Energy was named to Fortune's 2018 "World's Most Admired Companies" list and Forbes' 2018 "America's Best Employers" list. More information about the company is available at duke-energy.com. The Duke Energy News Center includes news releases, fact sheets, photos, videos and other materials. Duke Energy's illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. Follow Duke Energy on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.

Contact: Ana Gibbs
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