By the time SunEdison and Lakeland Electric finish the solar energy project that begins this month with the installation of 1,232 panels on top of the Lakeland Center, enough clean, environmentally friendly energy is expected to be generated to power 7,200 homes.
The target for completion is 2018. It started in mid-February with an acre of panels on top of the Lakeland Center and will move on within six months to a 40-acre expanse near the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport.
When finished, the addition of the solar panel array is expected to produce 24 megawatts of energy, joining Lakeland Electric's power generation mix of natural gas and coal.
SunEdison, the largest solar energy provider in North America, will install and maintain thousands of solar panels throughout Lakeland Electric's service area, and Lakeland Electric customers will purchase the electricity generated.
"Environmental stewardship is important to our community, to Lakeland city leadership and to Lakeland Electric," says Jim Stanfield, Lakeland Electric's general manager. "It is vital that every utility consider carefully how to meet customers' increasing demands for electricity and do it in a way that is fiscally and environmentally prudent."
Each of the panels atop the Lakeland Center will generate 230 watts of power, and a total of 283,360 watts will be produced from the one-acre array. Installation of the 40-acre array near the airport is scheduled to begin by mid-summer.
The program will enable an expansion of the current solar-heated hot water program, which has about 1,000 users now and has a waiting list. When completed, as many as 10,000 homes are expected to have access to Lakeland Electric's solar-heated hot water program, says Kevin Cook of the City of Lakeland.
Writer: Carter Gaddis
Source: Kevin Cook, City of Lakeland