solar farm

This solar plant in Suwanee is similar to the one Duke Energy is going to build in Lake Placid.

This solar plant in Suwanee is similar to the one Duke Energy is going to build in Lake Placid.

LAKE PLACID — Duke Energy Florida has plans to add 700 megawatts of solar power-generated energy to the state by 2020. Included in those plans are three new solar plants: DeBary Solar Plant in Volusia County, Trenton Solar Plant in Gilchrist County and Lake Placid Solar Plant in Highlands County.

The Florida Public Service Commission gave Duke Energy the green light Tuesday to bill customers in order to pay for the plants. The price tag for the three solar plants is estimated to be $252 million.

“Duke Energy Florida filed a request in March with the Florida Public Service Commission to recover the estimated investment costs associated with the Lake Placid, Trenton and DeBary solar power plants and it was approved yesterday,” Duke Energy’s Corporate Communications spokeswoman Peveeta Persaud said. “All Duke Energy Florida customers are affected by rate impacts.”

The Lake Placid plant will be a long-term lease of the acreage from Cow Slough and Price Groves, which are owned by members of the Smoak family. The entrance will be at St. John’s Street near an existing Duke Energy substation. The properties were orange groves but recently have been cleared to make room for the solar panels.

The Lake Placid plant will be on 380 acres and generate 45 megawatts from 180,000 solar panels.

“The impact to residential customers’ rates for the Lake Placid project is estimated to be 22 cents per 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh),” Persaud said. “The impact to residential customers’ rates for DeBary is estimated to be 33 cents per 1,000 kWh. The impact to residential customers’ rates for Trenton is estimated to be 37 cents per 1,000 kWh.

“Commercial and industrial customers would see approximately half a percent change or less per project,” Persaud said.

The Lake Placid plant is slated to be operational in December. Lake Placid bills will be impacted beginning January 2020.

An example of the cost increase, used previously, is to take one kilowatt hour, which cost $128 at the time and rounding it up to $130. The final bill would be $130.22.

Anyone interested in the solar plant project can attend a meeting from Duke Energy Florida on site readiness at 2:30 p.m. July 11 at South Florida State College’s University Center Auditorium.

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