Florida approves 194 MWac of solar power for $250 million

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The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved applications by Duke Energy Florida (DEF) for three solar power plants, which total 194 MWac and cost $250 million / $1.29/Wac. It was projected that these projects, via a Solar Base Rate Adjustment (SoBRA), will add a cost of 59¢/1,000 kWh to customer bills in January of 2020, plus another 33¢/1,000 kWh in April 2020 – dates that are aligned with the projects coming online. The three projects will cost an approximate total of $32 million a year (pdf).

Lake Placid Solar Power Plant

The three projects are the Lake Placid Solar Power Plan, with a 45 MWac interconnection, using single axis trackers and approximately 180,000 modules. The project will be located in Highlands County and is scheduled to go online before the end of December 2019.

The second project is in Gilchrist County, the Trenton Solar Power Plant, on 580 acres and  74.9 MWac. The site will also come online in December of 2019, and use 280,000 modules on a single axis tracking system.

The fixed rack DeBary Solar Power Plant is on 445 acres in Volusia County, will come online in March of 2020 with 300,000 modules totaling 74.5 MWdc.

Some of the images came from Re: 2019 TYSP Supplemental Data Request #1 (pdf) and others from the Facility Study For the Q149 45.0 MW Net Solar Plant Lake Placid North (476) Substation (pdf).

Though pv magazine USA wasn’t able to find the final engineering drawings, there were some hints at the DC sizing of the projects. For instance, the 45 MWac Lake Placid was actually sized 49 MWac / 67.48 MWdc power plant with a 45 MWac interconnection in the fall of 2018. This document notes 335 watt solar modules.

If this project were were to cost $60.9 million based on its proportion of the rate base revenue requirement, then its price per watt dc would be approximately $0.90/Wdc. This data is highly speculative though, as the above image notes over 200,000 solar modules and the final documents note 180,000 modules. 335 watts per a panel means 60 MWdc, and a price closer to $1/Wdc.

In 2017, as the broader program was approved, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) testified against the agreement. Sean Gallagher, SEIA’s vice president for state affairs said:

Rather than allow Duke to avoid competition and build its own solar projects at a rate above today’s market prices, the PSC should require Duke to conduct a competitive procurement process for solar capacity and to acquire a portion of projects from independent developers.

The program was approved as a part of a settlement where Duke was penalized for multiple infractions, including charges to customers for a nuclear power plant that wasn’t built.