EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Partners at Gulf Power celebrated a milestone Thursday, March 23, when the large-scale solar complex at Eglin Air Force Base hit the halfway point of installing more than 375,000 photovoltaic solar panels at the military installation that will soon bring energy from the sun to thousands of Northwest Florida residents.
Since January, more than 170,000 thousand panels have been installed at the 240-acre complex, that is expected to be complete within the next five to six weeks. Workers have installed an average of 12-15,000 panels daily at the military site that spans nearly 200 football fields.
“We’re now at the half-way point of installing panels in just three short months,” said Jeff Rogers, Gulf Power spokesperson. “We hope to be live and online by the middle of the summer.”
Ground was broken in November 2016 on the project, and is the largest solar project in terms of megawatts for the U.S. Air Force worldwide. The solar field is expected to start producing 30 megawatts of energy, or nearly enough energy to power 4,500 homes in Okaloosa County for a year, later this summer.
The Eglin large-scale solar complex is just one of three military installations under construction by Gulf Power and its third-party developer, Coronal Energy, powered by Panasonic. The projects will support the Department of Defense’s commitment to renewable energy and help further diversify Gulf Power’s energy portfolio and support the mission to provide safe, affordable and reliable environmentally responsible energy for its Northwest Florida customers.
The two other construction projects are taking place at Naval Air Station Pensacola’s Saufley Field and NAS Whiting Field’s Holley Outlying Field, and all three combined will have approximately 1.5 million solar panels capable of generating up to 120 megawatts of electricity, enough energy to power nearly 18,000 homes annually.
“The main impact for Northwest Florida is that 18,000 homes will be able to be powered by these solar rays,” added Rogers. “And greater than that, it speaks to our philosophy of a balanced energy mix. What that is, is an all-of-the above approach: the cleaner than ever coal, natural gas, wind and now solar.”
Energy produced by the projects will serve Gulf Power customers across Northwest Florida and were approved by the Florida Public Service Commission in April 2015. Together, these facilities will be among the largest photovoltaic arrays in Florida and have the potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 3.5 million tons over 25 years. Combined, this will be one of the largest solar projects east of the Mississippi.
By the Numbers:
Eglin Air Force Base
- Located within the confines of Eglin Air Force Base in Okaloosa County, Florida – approximately 60 miles east of Pensacola, Florida
- the largest solar project in terms of megawatts for the U.S. Air Force worldwide
- Approximately 375,000 photovoltaic panels
- Capacity of 30 megawatts producing enough energy to power nearly 4,500 Okaloosa County homes for a year
- Approximately 240 acres of land, the equivalent of 181 football fields
- 20,415 piles laid end-to-end would span 49 miles and weigh 911 tons
- 35,301,780 total pounds of steel
- Nearly 500 miles of cables, wiring and fiber cables
- 2,727,511 fasteners
- 1,914,000 zip ties
- 132 laborers
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