A blue sky and abundant sunshine made for a perfect day for Gulf Power to officially welcome Okaloosa County’s first solar trees to HarborWalk Village in Destin during a ceremonial untying of a green ribbon on Thursday.
Instead of the traditional cutting of a red ribbon, a green ribbon was used to represent sustainability, and will be used again as other solar trees and canopies are welcomed throughout Northwest Florida.
Legendary developer and CEO Peter Bos joined the City of Destin, Okaloosa County, Destin Chamber of Commerce and Gulf Power officials on the HarborWalk Village dock where the two solar trees have been planted under the zip line.
The panels on the two solar trees harvest the sun to produce zero-emissions energy. This eye-catching, interactive and innovative technology is located in the high-energy entertainment district of the HarborWalk Adventures area; a perfect location for Gulf Power to showcase its commitment to delivering renewable energy for a more sustainable energy future.
Bos noted that the solar trees are a great educational addition to the HarborWalk Village dock where local and visiting children can see solar energy being made.
“It seems Gulf Power has been a part of everything I’ve done for so long and is a great partner, a willing partner,” said Bos while standing in front of one of the solar trees. “Gulf Power, we are glad to have you leading the path for this and educating our children and the children that are visiting us. We are super glad to have this right in front of the (fishing) fleet, in this setting.”
Destin Mayor Gary Jarvis said it’s exciting to have the solar trees in Destin. “This is exciting because this is new technology,” he said pointing to the solar trees behind him. “This is a visual example of teamwork, and the commitment your company has made with the city. I look forward to more of these innovative ideas.”
Together, these trees are generating 7.2 kilowatts of clean, renewable energy that is flowing into the power grid for the benefit of all customers. That’s enough energy to power nearly six school classrooms on a daily basis.
With color-changing lights, each tree inspires conversations about clean energy and offers an element of education. They provide an opportunity for the public to see solar energy technology at work and use the trees’ QR codes to access information about the benefits of solar, Gulf Power’s solar trees and canopies, and our large-scale solar energy centers in service and in development across Northwest Florida.
Gulf Power Vice President Mike Spoor thanked Bos and the city of Destin for partnering with Gulf Power on this innovative project.
“As part of the FPL family, Gulf Power is working hard to build an even brighter energy future for Northwest Florida – delivering electricity that is cleaner, more reliable and more affordable over time,” Spoor said. “We are committed to increasing ways to harness zero-emissions energy from the sun that keeps costs down for our customers and keeps the region beautiful for all of us. It is because of our shared clean energy vision and partnerships that we are able to welcome this new attraction to HarborWalk, and we thank Peter Bos and his team.”
Spoor presented Bos with the remote controller for the color-changing light feature on each tree which, with the click of a remote-control, can change the light colors for different events and holiday celebrations.
While the two trees are the first ones for Okaloosa County, a third one will soon be activated at the Newman C. Brackin Wayside Park boardwalk in Fort Walton Beach.
Other Gulf Power solar projects in Northwest Florida include: solar parking canopies in the parking lots of the Corrine Jones Resource Center at Sanders Beach and at One Palafox Place in Pensacola; and two solar trees at the corner of Main and Reus streets in downtown Pensacola, at the crosswalks for city hall and the Wahoo Stadium.
Gulf Power is working to bring more solar trees, parking canopies and solar zones — solar tables with charging stations — to other areas across the region.