Coronal Energy, powered by Panasonic, an independent power producer (IPP) and provider of turnkey renewable energy solutions, and Pensacola, Fla.-headquartered energy provider Gulf Power have completed the largest combined portfolio of solar facilities on U.S. Department of Defense property to date.
The 120 MW-AC Gulf Coast Solar Center spans 942 acres across three Navy and Air Force sites in northwest Florida. Together with Air Force and Navy officials, executives from Coronal Energy, Panasonic, and Gulf Power celebrated the achievement Tuesday during a ceremony held at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola’s Navy Outlying Landing Field (NOLF) Saufley, which hosts the largest of the three solar installations: a 366-acre, 50 MW-AC solar generating facility.
“We work hard every day to provide our customers with valuable and diverse energy solutions, and it’s a special occasion to see the vision we had for this project come to life today,” said Stan Connally, Gulf Power chairman, president and CEO. “Adding clean, affordable energy to our energy grid through the innovative public-private partnership that enabled the completion of all three of the portfolio’s solar facilities is a proud accomplishment for Gulf Power and a significant milestone for the local economy, our customers and the environment.”
The solar facility at NAS Pensacola’s NOLF Saufley comprises nearly 600,000 solar photovoltaic (PV) modules that will generate enough energy to power approximately 7,400 homes in northwest Florida annually. The three-project portfolio, representing one of the largest combined solar projects east of the Mississippi, also includes 40 MW-AC and 30 MW-AC facilities at NAS Whiting Field’s NOLF Holley and the Eglin Air Force Base Reservation spanning 336 and 240 acres, respectively. In total, the nearly 1.5 million solar panels will generate enough energy to power more than 18,000 local homes each year across Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa counties.
“Considering the scale of the Gulf Coast Solar Center portfolio, collaboration between our team and the like-minded teams at the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and Gulf Power has been an essential element of our success in developing these projects,” said Jonathan Jaffrey, chairman and CEO of Coronal Energy. “The result is a landmark energy project that represents what is possible when our nation’s military and its leading energy companies like Gulf Power commit to renewables. We are honored to take our place alongside these partners for this historic project.”
“Each installation and mission throughout the Southeast is unique, and it is imperative for us [the Navy] to have the energy security and resilience needed to support the greater Navy mission,” said NAS Pensacola Commanding Officer Capt. Christopher Martin. “We are pleased to know these facilities will help provide clean energy to thousands of homes across northwest Florida.”
“The partnerships that we enjoy with the community here in northwest Florida are incredibly gratifying,” said NAS Whiting Field Commanding Officer Capt. Todd Bahlau. “Today, we get to observe the culmination of two years’ worth of teamwork and dedication to a project that has benefited the Navy and Air Force teams, the community and the industries involved. NAS Whiting Field is committed to being a good neighbor to our communities, and I am thrilled to be a part of an endeavor that helps our local residents secure a new source of renewable energy.”
Brigadier General Evan Dertien, 96th Test Wing commander said, “The initiatives at Eglin AFB, along with those at Saufley and Holley, support the Department of Defense’s commitment to increasing renewable energy and are an impressive display of how joint partnerships can have a positive impact on energy independence. Additionally, the revenue received for leasing the projects on Eglin lands will afford us the opportunity to invest in energy modernization initiatives, while serving as a model for military/community partnerships.”
The combined solar facilities contribute to the growth rate for renewable energy jobs in northwest Florida. Since construction began at all three locations in November 2016, nearly 450 local laborers have been deployed.
“We believe that economically favorable clean energy options are vital to our nation’s economy and security,” added Jaffrey. “We look forward to supporting the military as a trusted advisor as it pursues solar energy initatives on bases nationwide in a mission to modernize energy systems for reliability and resilience.”