Central Florida solar company developed, constructed and will operate solar array
ESA Renewables (ESA), an industry leader in providing turnkey solar solutions, is pleased to announce the completion of a 400 kilowatt (kW) community solar farm on the Gardenia campus of the Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) located at 3800 Gardenia Avenue in Orlando, FL. The array was commissioned in October by ESA and has been acquired by Spear Point Energy; OUC has agreed to purchase the generated power from Spear Point Energy under a 25-year power purchase agreement.
The solar farm is the result of many companies coming together, including Sylvester and Cockrum, ReneSola, Advanced Energy, Chint, Schletter, ESA, and Spear Point Energy.
"The technology innovation of using Schletter micro-piles as foundations and precast concrete pads, in addition to the engineering design using a high density module with a modular canopy with long spans, has cut the construction schedule in half and minimized the risk factors in a rainy environment like Florida," said Javier Latre Gorbe, Vice-President of Technical Operations for ESA Renewables. "The solar array serves dual purposes as a solar farm and a canopy to 151 LED-lit parking spaces for OUC employees and guests."
"We are pleased to have worked closely with ESA Renewables on the OUC community solar array project, contributing our services and capabilities of the micro-pile technology and carport structure to the farm," said Ryan Kelly, Vice President of Sales for Schletter Inc. Mr. Kelly went on to add that "The carport structures are comprised of mainly aluminum, making it maintenance free. This saved an incredible amount of time and money during the installation process."
"The CPS 3 Phase string Inverters are ideally suited for use in solar canopy designs. This decentralized approach provides reduced installation and BOS costs, lowers O&M costs and improves system uptime," said Jesse Batista Eastern and Latin American Sales Manager for Chint Power Systems America.
"It's humbling working with firms like ESA, which takes great pride in not only its work, but the selection process to determine which modules to use in its projects," said Brian Armentrout, Director of Marketing for ReneSola America.
The solar farm covers approximately 2.5 acres of the parking area of OUC's Gardenia Campus and is expected to produce about 540,000 kWh annually – enough to meet the power needs of about 40 homes. As a community solar farm, it is the first of its kind in Orlando, and only the second in Florida.
Subscriptions to the community solar farm sold out in less than a week after OUC offered its customers the opportunity to purchase blocks of solar power from the array. Subscribers receive credit on their electricity bills for their share of the solar farm's production. The Gardenia solar farm has 39 OUC subscribers, and while initially they will be paying a slight premium for their electricity, their rate is locked in for 25 years.
"Half of our customers live in multi-family housing and do not have the ability to add solar to their homes. Innovative projects like this allow our customers to purchase solar power without the upfront costs or hassle of installing it and with the added bonus of being able to lock in their power rate," said Byron Knibbs, OUC Vice President of Customer & Sustainable Services.
"Spear Point Energy proudly invested in the project due to several factors: the high quality team, construction, material, equipment and the smart way OUC structured their community solar program. It is exciting that OUC is working with the community to allow Orlando residents to own the power generated by this solar project," said Michael Johnson, President of Spear Point Energy. "We are pleased to be a part of bringing the benefits of community solar to Orlando."
"This solar farm provides sustainable, green energy and eliminates the upfront expenses, installation and equipment maintenance costs associated with individuals installing solar at their own home or business," said Lindsay Herold, Chief Operating Officer for ESA Renewables. "ESA is managing ongoing operation and maintenance (O&M) costs and services for the solar farm."
A ribbon-cutting celebration was held at OUC's Gardenia Campus near John Young Boulevard in Orlando at the end of October. The solar farm can be seen from Interstate 4, the main artery running through the city.