Gulf Power solar fields harnessing sun for power grid

Gulf Power has been a leader in providing renewable energy since 2010 as part of its promise to provide customers reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible energy.

Today, 11 percent of the energy Gulf Power is generating for its service area is from renewable sources — landfill gas-to-energy from Escambia County’s Perdido Landfill, wind energy from the Midwest, and three solar fields on military bases across Northwest Florida.

Since the summer of 2017, Gulf Power hit a historic milestone when it flipped the switch on the 1.5 million photovoltaic solar panels that were installed on the three solar fields. Combined, they span an impressive 942 acres, creating one of the largest solar projects in Florida. The project represents an important public-private collaboration between Gulf Power and the Navy and Air Force, and its developer, Coronal Energy, powered by Panasonic.

Since becoming operational nearly 17 months ago, all three solar fields combined are capable of generating up to 120 megawatts of electricity, enough energy to power nearly 18,000 homes annually.

“We work hard every day to provide our customers with valuable and diverse energy solutions, and it’s exciting to see the vision we had for this project performing as anticipated,” said Kimberly Blair, Gulf Power spokesperson. “Adding clean, affordable energy to our grid through the innovative public-private partnership that enabled the operation of all three of the portfolio’s solar facilities is a proud accomplishment for Gulf Power, and a significant milestone for the local economy, our customers and the environment.”

The facilities generate the following amounts of energy:

  • Eglin Air Force Base: 30-megawatt facility with approximately 371,000 photovoltaic panels, In the first 12 months of operation the facility exceeded the expectations and produced 60,954,351 kilowatt-hours of energy, and enough energy to power 4,583 homes.
  • NAS Pensacola NOLF Saufley: 50-megawatt facility with approximately 600,000 photovoltaic panels, producing enough energy to power nearly 7,400 Escambia County homes for a year.
  • NAS Whiting Field NOLF Holley: 40-megawatt facility with approximately 475,000 photovoltaic panels, producing enough energy to power nearly 6,100 Santa Rosa County homes for a year.

Construction began in November 2016 on the three solar fields employing 132 laborers on the Eglin site, 165 on the Saufley site and 149 on the Holley Field site. The fields were all operational by late August of 2017. These facilities combined have the potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 3.5 million tons. The projects support the Department of Defense’s commitment to renewable energy and further diversifies Gulf Power’s energy portfolio.

“Providing renewable energy is important to our customers but this is only part of the story,” said Blair. “The renewable energy harnessed by the sun along with more than $1.9 million in investments in clean air systems have helped Gulf Power reduce its carbon emissions by 50 percent over the past decade.”