Privately Owned PV Facility to Become One of the Largest Solar Energy Projects in the U.S.
Lake Mary, FL, November 16, 2011 – BlueChip Energy, LLC (BCE), a fully-integrated solar energy provider for utility, commercial and residential applications, held a ceremony to celebrate the formal groundbreaking of its planned 120-megawatt (MW) Sorrento Solar Farm in Lake County, Florida and started construction on the first stage of development.
The groundbreaking ceremony was attended by over 100 guests including officials from Lake County government and Progress Energy Florida who has an agreement with BCE for the purchase of solar power from Sorrento Solar Farm. Also, in attendance were visiting members of AmeriCorps, local residents and business owners.
"The Sorrento Solar facility is a developing example of how Progress Energy Florida will serve our customers using cost-effective renewable electricity in the future. We remain encouraged with Blue Chip Energy's progress on this project," says Michael Carl, Progress Energy Florida, Director of Renewables and Wholesale Power.
The start of construction was marked by the deployment of a new generation of PV ground mount systems for utility scale projects. The PV ground mount system features the use of helical anchors to make the installation of large PV solar projects more efficient and cost effective.
"Today's groundbreaking marks an important milestone that will not only bring clean, renewable solar energy to thousands of homes in the Sunshine State, but also create hundreds of jobs in Central Florida. We expect to see the Sorrento Solar Farm serve as a business model for local communities and global investors" said Lawrence Hefler, spokesman for the company. "The price of solar continues to decline, making solar power increasingly cost-competitive with fossil fuel generation."
The first 40 MW phase of the project will make Sorrento one of the largest solar farms in the United States when completed. Recently BlueChip Energy announced a planned expansion of the Sorrento Solar Farm from 40 MW to 120 MW utilizing adjacent land. In October, the company signed a letter of intent with Neo Solar Power, a Taiwan-based solar cell manufacturer, to contribute its high-efficiency solar cells for an equity participation in the Sorrento Solar Farm. The company is in discussion with additional equity partners for the project. Earlier this year BlueChip Energy connected the 1.2 MW phase of the Rinehart Solar Farm in Seminole County, making it the largest rooftop PV installation in Florida.
BlueChip Energy, LLC (BCE) is a fully-integrated solar PV power generator, occupying all segments of the solar power value chain, from manufacturing of solar panels and balance of systems components, to the sale of turnkey solar power plants – and electricity – to utility, commercial and residential customers. BCE develops finances, constructs, operates, and monitors solar plants for companies and individuals, as well as for its own portfolio.
BlueChip Energy's two flagship utility scale solar projects, the Rinehart Solar Farm (10 MW) and the Sorrento Solar Farm (40 MW), received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as self-certified small power production facilities, or Qualified Facilities (QFs) earlier this year, requiring the local utility to provide interconnection to them and purchase the electricity they produce. Additionally, these two solar farms have received approval to operate as Exempt Wholesale Generators (EWGs), providing the facilities with undisputed access to the power distribution network. FERC has also granted the company Market-Based Rate Authorization, allowing BCE to purchase and sell wholesale electricity and offer renewable energy products to customers.