A new solar farm for the City of Bartow, Florida, is expected to generate 5 to 6% of the city’s annual energy requirements. Incorporating more than 28,000 high-efficiency solar panels, the solar farm ranks as one of the largest municipal solar facilities in the state, according to developer NovaSol Energy.
Bartow, located about 45 miles east of Tampa, has a growing population over 17,000 and was facing electricity costs of $20 million. In order to help offset some of the city’s bulk power requirements, Bartow officials formed a public-private partnership with NovaSol Energy and agreed to a 25-year fixed rate contract to help protect from future price increases.
“Since the generation facility is located within city limits, it will save the city on transmission charges for the power generated onsite, a more cost-effective solution than being transported to the city from a bulk power provider,” NovaSol Energy says.
Third-party investors financed, constructed, and own the solar facility. All electricity output from the new solar farm will be supplied to the city under the 25-year contract, which the independent renewable energy company NovaSol says insulates the city from peaking energy costs and future price increases for traditional fuels like natural gas.
“The installation of this facility’s solar panels will help the city generate energy to supply the needs of approximately one thousand average homes annually, furthering our goal to conserve natural resources,” said City of Bartow Mayor James F. Clements.
In addition to the 40-acre solar farm, NovaSol Energy also developed a 30-kW solar system for Bartow’s city hall building. The company says this system should produce approximately one third of the building’s annual energy consumption.
NovaSol Energy says the solar farm’s string inverter architecture provides greater efficiency and up-time reliability.
Last fall Bartow was hit by Hurricane Irma, which downed trees and power lines in the area. At one point almost 80% of the county was without power. Natural disasters like Irma have helped make the business case for distributed renewable power. Around the state in September, examples emerged of homeowners relying on power from solar panels during the storm. Closer to Fort Lauderdale, the Coral Springs deployed solar-powered traffic lights.
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