• Two new universal solar energy centers in Escambia and Jackson counties will generate clean, emissions-free, and cost-effective energy for customers by early 2022.
  • Together, these solar energy centers will have nearly 150 megawatts of solar capacity — the equivalent of removing 28,000 cars from Florida’s roadways annually.
  • FPL currently owns and operates more than 40 solar energy centers across the Sunshine State – including Gulf Power’s Blue Indigo Solar Energy Center in Jackson County.

PENSACOLA, Fla. – As part of Florida Power & Light Company (FPL), Gulf Power is installing the first of 600,000 additional solar panels in Northwest Florida at Cotton Creek Solar Energy Center in Escambia County and Blue Springs Solar Energy Center in Jackson County. They both will begin generating cost-effective, clean and emissions-free energy for customers by early 2022.

At around 500 acres each, together these new sites will have the capacity to generate enough energy to power 30,000 homes and the emissions-free energy generated is the equivalent to removing 28,000 cars from the road annually. These sites are part of FPL’s solar expansion, creating a more sustainable energy future for the region and state.

Up to 200 workers are hired to construct the solar array at each solar energy center. Here an installer is fastening a solar panel on racking at Blue Springs Solar Energy Center.

“Installing the first solar panels at these large-scale sites is always an exciting day. With every panel installed, we are ushering in a more sustainable future for Florida by delivering cleaner, lower-cost energy while increasing reliability for our customers,” said Mike Spoor, Gulf Power vice president. “With each solar farm we build, we are driving down costs that will ultimately lead to lower bills for our customers. We are also reducing our carbon footprint and providing cleaner air for our region, ensuring we keep Northwest Florida beautiful for generations to come, while also benefitting the local economy with the contribution of hundreds of thousands of additional tax dollars.”

Each of these projects also creates around 200 construction jobs that attract local skilled installers and laborers, who get the opportunity to work in the innovative renewable energy industry. Some workers travel to local areas to work, providing an economic boost to the communities through their purchases of goods and services. Currently, Gulf Power has many local hires from counties across Northwest Florida working on these projects, and the company is also using local vendors for goods and services, such as the dozens of out-of-town workers constructing the Blue Springs Solar Energy center staying at the Florida Caverns State Park in Mariana.

Solar panels are stacked up at Blue Springs Solar Energy Center in Jackson County waiting to be installed on the racking.

When Cotton Creek and Blue Springs solar energy centers are completed by early 2022, they will join Gulf Power’s Blue Indigo Solar Energy Center in Jackson County in delivering cleaner, more cost-effective energy to customers. Blue Indigo Solar Energy Center went into operation April 1, 2020, and is the first solar energy center Gulf Power, as part of FPL, owns and operates. Cotton Creek will be Gulf Power’s first owned and operated solar energy center in Escambia County.

Additional large-scale solar energy centers are in development across Northwest Florida, including:
• First City Solar Energy Center in Escambia County
• Blackwater River Solar Energy Center in Santa Rosa County
• Chipola River Solar Energy Center, Flowers Creek Solar Energy Center and Shirer Branch in Calhoun County
• Apalachee Solar Energy Center in Jackson County
• Chautauqua Solar Energy Center in Walton County
• Saw Palmetto Solar Energy Center in Bay County
• Wild Azalea Solar Energy Center in Gadsden County
• Cypress Pond Solar Energy Center in Washington County

Cotton Creek Solar Energy Center is in North Escambia County and is surrounded by timbering land that mostly buffers it from public view.

Making Florida a leader in solar energy
Cotton Creek and Blue Springs solar energy centers, as well as the additional solar energy centers under development across Northwest Florida, are part of FPL’s commitment to further advance affordable, clean, and reliable energy for all of its customers throughout the state. The company operates 42 solar energy centers across the Sunshine State – including Gulf Power’s Blue Indigo Solar Energy Center in Jackson County – with plans to continue building clean solar power for its customers.

By building universal-scale solar energy centers across Florida, FPL and Gulf Power are taking advantage of the extended sunshine across the state’s vast peninsula and panhandle, which spans two time zones. The company’s transmission system allows energy produced from the solar energy centers all over the state to benefit customers throughout its entire service area.

By the numbers:
• Each of the new solar energy centers will be capable of generating 74.5 megawatts (MW) of power from the sun.
• Combined, these two centers will generate enough solar energy to power about 30,000 homes.
• More than 400 construction jobs will benefit local economies during the installation of the two solar energy centers.
• Local counties will benefit from hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax revenue from each site.
• These two solar energy centers are part of FPL’s commitment to further advance affordable, clean, and reliable energy for all its customers throughout the state.

Solar in the community
Greater visibility of working solar technology is coming to Northwest Florida communities with the installation of solar trees, solar parking canopies, and solar zones. The projects include:

• Solar parking canopies in the parking lots of the Corrine Jones Resource Center at Sanders Beach and at One Palafox Place in Pensacola
• Two solar trees at the corner of Main and Reus streets in downtown Pensacola, at the crosswalks for city hall, and the Wahoo Stadium
• Two solar zones in Pensacola, one at Roger Scott Tennis Center and one at Osceola Golf Course
• Two solar trees at HarborWalk Village Boardwalk in Destin
• One solar tree at the Newman C. Brackin Wayside Park boardwalk in Fort Walton Beach
• A solar tree is planned for Washington County’s DeSoto Administrative building in Chipley

An innovative approach to modernizing power generation
In addition to its solar projects, construction is underway at FPL’s Manatee Energy Storage Center, the world’s largest integrated solar-powered battery system. This groundbreaking energy storage system is part of an innovative modernization plan that is expected to accelerate the retirement of aging natural gas units at a neighboring power plant.

Located in Parrish, Fla., the FPL Manatee Energy Storage Center is expected to begin serving customers in late 2021 by storing extra energy produced by the nearby FPL Manatee Solar Energy Center when the sun’s rays are strongest and sending it to the grid when there is a higher demand for electricity – meaning customers will benefit from solar energy even during times when the sun is not shining, such as at night or on a cloudy day.

Visit www.GulfPower.com/solar for more information on the company’s solar energy expansion.

*Gulf Power also purchases 120 megawatts of solar energy from the Gulf Coast Solar Center – three solar energy centers on local military bases that went into operation in 2017 through a partnership with a third-party developer and the Department of Defense.