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Largest Solar Power Plant Opens In FL

From a joyous (if forgetful) Associated Press:

Largest solar panel plant in US rises in Fla.

By Christine Armario, Associated Press Writer Fri Oct 23

ARCADIA, Fla. – Greg Bove steps into his pickup truck and drives down a sandy path to where the future of Florida’s renewable energy plans begin: Acres of open land filled with solar panels that will soon power thousands of homes and business…

The Desoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center will power a small fraction of Florida Power & Light’s 4-million plus customer base; nevertheless, at 25 megawatts, it will generate nearly twice as much energy as the second-largest photovoltaic facility in the U.S.

The White House said President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit the facility Tuesday, when it officially goes online and begins producing power for the electric grid.

As demand grows and more states create mandates requiring a certain percentage of their energy come from renewable sources, the size of the plants is increasing

Despite its nickname, the Sunshine State hasn’t been at the forefront of solar power. Less than 4 percent of Florida’s energy has come from renewable sources in recent years. And unlike California and many other states, Florida lawmakers haven’t agreed to setting clean energy quotas for electric companies to reach in the years ahead

The investment isn’t cheap: The Desoto project cost $150 million to build and the power it supplies to some 3,000 homes and businesses will represent just a sliver of the 4 million-plus accounts served by the state’s largest electric utility.

But there are some economic benefits: It created 400 jobs for draftsmen, carpenters and others whose work dried up as the southwest Florida housing boom came to a closure and the recession set in. Once running, it will require few full-time employees

Overall, the United States still trails other nations in building photovoltaic plants.

Spain and Germany have made larger per capita commitments to solar power because of aggressive government policies, said Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. And China has announced plans to pay up to 50 percent of the price of solar power systems of more than 500 megawatts.

"If we don’t get our market right and send the right market signals and really support growing this technology, we will be buying solar panels from other countries," Smith said…

What a typical load of Associated Press disinformation.

The Desoto project cost $150 million to build and the power it supplies to some 3,000 homes and businesses.

Is that really cost effective? $50,000 to power one building? – In Florida?

Despite its nickname, the Sunshine State hasn’t been at the forefront of solar power. Less than 4 percent of Florida’s energy has come from renewable sources in recent years.

Er, we suspect it is a lot less than 4 percent. According to an AP story we posted back on July 16, 2009:

[Solar power] represents about one-quarter of 1 percent of California’s total energy capacity, according to the California Energy Commission.


The group’s latest report shows Germany as the world leader in solar power, with 5,400 megawatts, or about 1 percent of the country’s total generating capacity.

And never mind this further misinformation:

"If we don’t get our market right and send the right market signals and really support growing this technology, we will be buying solar panels from other countries," Smith said.

According to a New York Times article we posted on August 27, 2009, China is producing so many low cost solar panels now, US solar power panel manufacturers are going out of business.

And the worldwide demand has dried up anyway.

But that’s okay, once the government mandates kick in everyone will go solar.

Or else.

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, October 24th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

23 Responses to “Largest Solar Power Plant Opens In FL”

  1. Confucius says:

    I would think windmills a better dumb-green solution.

  2. proreason says:

    It created 400 jobs.


    Would building a nuclear plant or a coal-fired plant not have created a similar number?

    And how many jobs would digging giant holes and refilling them over and over have created?

  3. MinnesotaRush says:

    “Acres of open land filled with solar panels that will soon power thousands of homes and business…”

    Just how many acres?

    “The Desoto project cost $150 million to build and the power it supplies to some 3,000 homes and businesses.”

    “Is that really cost effective? $50,000 to power one building? – In Florida?”

    Apparrently one of those “400 jobs” that got created did NOT include an economist.

    • MinnesotaRush says:

      Looked it up .. 180 acres. There goes the neighborhood.

    • proreason says:

      $50,000 per home or business served.

      Assume a 50 year life. Assume 5% as the average interest. Average annual amortized cost would be $2700 per home or business. That cost, of course, must be paid whether energy is used or not. And by the way, that cost doesn’t go away, even if somebody comes up with a miracle improvement in solar energy.

      But the kicker is the maintenance cost.

      Solar panels last about 25 years. Maintenance costs must then be at least $2,000 per year (50,000 divided by 25), but are probably twice that.

      Does $4700+ a year (cost, not price) to provide energy to a home or business sound like a good deal in Florida?

      And that’s before the required 100% redundant coal-fired plant to supply energy when the sun isn’t shining. Fortunately, the cost of that will be a lot less.

      What an incredible scan this green energy crap is.

    • Liberals Demise says:

      Did anyone care to examine how much heat these panels will emit as they stare up at the sun?

    • U NO HOO says:


      Davis-Besse Nuclear Generating Station, Ohio
      Update: September 10, 2009
      Next Update: September 2010

      Davis-Besse Nuclear Generating Station
      Net Generation and Capacity, 2008

      Unit Net Capacity
      MW(e) Generation
      (Million Kilowatt Hours) Capacity
      Factor (Percent) Type On Line
      Date License
      Expiration Date
      1 879 6,823 88 PWR 7/31/1978 4/22/2017
      PWR =pressurized light water reactors.
      Description: The Davis-Besse power plant is located in Oak Harbor, Ohio, on a site covering 954 acres. The plant, however, uses only a fraction of the site with 733 acres devoted to a National Wildlife Refuge. If there is one statement about Davis-Besse that both pro- and anti- nuclear factions can agree on, perhaps it is this: the Davis-Besse plant is a survivor. This Ohio power plant has weathered the storm, both figuratively and literally. Davis-Besse suffered a direct hit by a tornado. More serious damage was accomplished without nature’s intervention. The plant was shut down for a full year following the discovery of deterioration of the reactor head (the upper part of the reactor). The discovery led to enhanced NRC oversight of maintenance at the plant, substantial costs and fines. It also resulted shutdowns at other plants to inspect for this type of damage. Davis-Besse has corrected the problems and, as the table indicates, is currently performing near capacity.

      221 acres for 879 MW


      180 acres for 25 MW

      Yep, there goes a couple neighborhoods.

      Oh yeah, aint Jimmy Carter a nuclear engineer?

  4. retire05 says:

    Florida Power and Light (FL&P) has just wasted tons of money and created a enviromental disaster.

    Now, let’s take a look at FL&P’s largest power plant. According to the FL&P web site, the Forney power plant is the biggest producer of electricity of all its holdings. It generates 1,792 MW of power annually. The Forney plant is located in Forney, TEXAS is is gas fired. If you look at most of FL & P’s plants, they are located all across the nation with the fewest being in (tah-dah) Florida. Compare the Forney power plant at its 1,792 MW output to the recent DeSoto project that will produce 25 MW.

    Recently, LCRA (the Lower Colorado River Authority) sold one of its wind turbine farms to FL & P, determining that the wind generated power was too expensive and provided very little return on its money. Also, these wind turbine farms require huge power lines to be constructed to transport the electricity to its destination (Florida) and Texans are kicking up a huge ruckus over having these power lines constructed on their property. Texas has even enacted some recent legislation that prevents FL & P from constructing these power lines claiming eminent domain.

    Instead of going ahead with the wind turbine farm, LCRA is now retrofitting its coal power plants that generate three times the power of wind farms with clean coal technology that is 98% emissions free.

    While it is all well and good to want to jump on the “green” band wagon, one has to look at the cost to the American consumer. FL & P would be better building small power plants to provide service for 4 million customers which would acheive two things: it would leave a smaller footprint on the landscape and would eliminate huge power lines that slash across our nation like giant scars.

    The technology to make solar and wind cost effective is just not there yet. One great example is the T. Boone Pickens project. Pickens was going to build a huge wind turbine farm in west Texas. Hell, he even got the state of Texas to award $4.9 billion for the construction of new, high voltage power lines and had a deal all but sealed with the City of Dallas to provide electricty. Only one problem; Pickens couldn’t convince the federal government to pay for it and he was not willing to fork over his own money since the return rate (when it operates in the black) was 10-12 years. So what did Pickens do? He switched horses in mid-stream and is not pushing natural gas.

    But the bottom line is that none of this giant push for “green” energy has one damn thing to do with “climate change” (calling it global warming is no longer correct as the earth doesn’t seem to be cooperating too well with Al Gore lately). It has to do with power and not the kind that lights up your eco-friendly light bulbs that require a scientist to clean up if you break one. It has to do with diminishing the power of the U.S.

    It is just that simple.

    • Helena says:

      Just got a little “invitation to participate” from my local gas and electric company in the mail to sign up for “wind power” – at an additional cost of 2.5 cents per kilowatt hour – “because you recognize the importance of reducing your carbon footprint to combat climate change.”

      I’m supposed to pay more in order to increase the demand for wind power? They’re so barking up the wrong tree.

    • retire05 says:

      Helena, as Obama said “utility costs will necessarily skyrocket.”

      You see, allowing Americans to have cheap, efficient energy is less important that saving the world (or the whales or the polar bears or what the hell ever animal the greens are pushing today).

      As a side note, Austin, Texas, the San Francisco of the southwest, offered the same deal you got to various businesses in Austin. It was such a bust that the “green” costs had to be passed onto the taxpayers because businesses told Austin Power to get bent.

      One other little thing that no one seems to notice; while The One keeps telling us government run health care will be good for all of us and encourage competition, where is the competition in utility companies? I am limited to one power company (owned by the city) and one gas company.

      So how has the elimination of competition there made my costs go down?

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      businesses told Austin Power to get bent.

      Yeah, baby!!!

    • U NO HOO says:

      Florida Power & Light offered me a job out of college. I turned it down.

      That’s all.

  5. canary says:

    MinnesotaRush, wonder what the 180 acres cost. By the looks of them it might have taken 100 of thousansds of those panels, to give energy to 3000 homes. Nieghborhoods will be built so big, it might take a days time and fuel to drive home. Then you’d have to turn around and drive back to work.

  6. snopercod says:

    What is missing from all the news reports is the estimate of ongoing costs. Maintenance (cleaning the bird s**t off the panels), security (to keep people from stealing the solar panels), engineering (to keep everything running), operations (people to monitor the output), etc. etc…

    I am reminded of Arco Solar on the Carissa Plains in California. It went bankrupt in just a couple years, IIRC.

  7. DW says:

    Just outta curiosity…
    I’ve noticed that Florida seems to get it’s fair share of hurricanes.
    Is Arcadia far enough inland to diminish hurricane force winds?
    And if not, how will those big billboards stand up to them?

    Also, do you get decent hailstorms in Florida?

  8. sheehanjihad says:

    Arcadia was almost totaled during Hurricane Wilma..and Francis. That solar farm is going to be the largest in the country alright….it will be spread around about six hundred square miles of central Florida. Dont believe me? Wait till next year!~

    As for hailstorms….not very many, and usually pea sized hail at that. The thunderstorms here cant get cranked up like the midwest monsters because they only have about seventy five miles to travel due to the prevailing winds before they hit a beach.

    The solar storm is going to be funnier too…..offshore, about fifty miles, lies one of the largest petroleum and natural gas deposits in our country. It sits there too…while the eco turds build reflectors that will give Floridians a whopping .00025 percent of it’s total need. OH ! Yeah, I almost forgot….six people will get jobs too!!

    Fantaaaaaaaaaastic! eh? What a dufus administration we are enduring….geeeez.

  9. canary says:

    Hurricane Charlie devastated Arcadia Florida in 2004. Obama’s visit is to play golf.

  10. canary says:

    The LA Times: Obama says winner of clean-energy race will lead global economy –
    Reporting from Washington – …trying to keep the U.S. competitive in the multitrillion-dollar race….
    President Obama — in a speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston on Friday… he said.

    “The nation that wins this competition will be the nation that leads the global economy. I am convinced of that. And I want America to be that nation.”

    Other companies and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which opposed the Obama-backed climate bill that the House passed, say emissions limits aren’t necessarily required to boost competitiveness. The Chamber advocates tax credits, a “clean-energy bank” to spur investment, and nuclear power, said Karen Harbert, president and chief executive of the Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy.

    “Don’t just say, ‘How do we get carbon out of the air?’ ” said James Owens, chairman and chief executive of construction equipment giant Caterpillar.

    “That could get the wrong answer.”

    (entire fear-mongering article)

    I think we should focus on a strong defense so China doesn’t take us over.

  11. proreason says:

    In addition to slaughering birds, it turns out that windmills also destroy bat populations. That’s getting the endangered species zealots up in arms. Good!

    When will they tune into the fact that 180 acres of solar panels is also enormously destructive to the environment.

    If 180 acres can power 3,000 homes and businesses, wouldn’t it take 180 x 100,000 acres to power the country? That’s bigger than 10 states, btw. But really, who needs those little states when you can get expensive clean power that destroys every living thing underneath the panels. Killing that amount of life will also have the wonderful side benefit of reducing our carbon footprint.

    And at night, we can use blankets.

  12. Georgfelis says:

    Link first http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf02.html

    “In March 2008 Progress Energy announced that its two new Westinghouse AP1000 units on a greenfield site in Florida would cost it about $14 billion…”

    An AP1000 is about 1,117 Mw, that works out to construction/fueling costs of roughly $700k/Mw, vs $6,000k/Mw for the Solar plant. Plus a nuke plant works at night.

    Can somebody please check my math?

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