In celebration of Earth Day, the City of Pensacola and Gulf Power officially welcomed Pensacola’s first-ever solar trees to downtown Pensacola 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.
City and Gulf Power officials gathered at the corner of Main and Reus streets in downtown Pensacola where the two solar trees have been installed on opposite corners of the intersection — one on the city hall side of the street and one on the Wahoo Stadium side of the street.
The Greater Pensacola Area Chamber of Commerce ambassadors and Kazoo, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos baseball team mascot, helped welcome the trees topped with solar panels that generate clean energy from the sun. Together, these trees are capable of generating 3.7 kilowatts of clean, renewable energy that is flowing into the power grid for the benefit of the City of Pensacola. That’s enough energy to power three school classrooms on a daily basis.
The trees represent an extension of the City of Pensacola’s clean energy partnership with Gulf Power.
“Any opportunity to bring renewable energy to the City of Pensacola is a positive thing, benefitting both the city and our citizens,” said Mayor Grover Robinson. “We are excited to partner with Gulf Power to bring solar energy to downtown Pensacola with these new solar trees that will reduce carbon emissions and help us continue to create a greener Pensacola. I am very proud that Gulf Power chose the City of Pensacola to do the first of their solar trees.”
Robinson pointed out that the color of trees – a seafoam green one and a blue wahoo color one – were selected because they are the city’s colors.
“They rep what we have; the water and the sky and colors that remind us of our environment and the beauty we have in Northwest Florida,” he said.
Gulf Power Vice President Mike Spoor thanked Mayor Robinson 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 partnership with the City of Pensacola, that we are able to welcome the city’s first solar trees, and we thank Mayor Robinson and his team.”
The trees also represent Gulf Power’s commitment to the revitalization of the downtown area by providing fun, eye-catching and interactive learning attraction to the landscape. Each tree inspires conversations about clean energy and offers an element of education. They provide an opportunity for the public to see working solar energy technology and to use each tree’s QR code to access information about the benefits of solar, Gulf Power’s solar trees and canopy projects, and the company’s large-scale solar energy centers.
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; a solar tree at the Newman C. Brackin Wayside Park boardwalk in Fort Walton Beach; and two solar trees at the HarborWalk Village Boardwalk in Destin.
The trees are trimmed in color-changing lights that the city of Pensacola, with the click of a remote-control, can change for different events and holiday celebrations. Spoor presented Mayor Robinson with the controller that he switched on to green lights in honor of Earth Day, which is celebrated the entire month of April.