Solar Demonstration Project Dedicated in Key West
Solar project supports renewable generation development, educates people about energy and the environment
ORLANDO, Fla., March 29, 2010 – Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA), Keys Energy Services and NOAA’s Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary dedicated a new solar demonstration project at a ceremony last Friday in Key West.
The 26 kilowatt (AC) solar photovoltaic system was installed at the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center in December 2009. The solar system is jointly owned by FMPA and NOAA and operated by Keys Energy Services, the public power utility for the lower Florida Keys. The system now provides about 30 percent of the Center’s power needs and is part of FMPA’s statewide network of power generating resources serving 14 communities located throughout Florida, from the Panhandle to Key West.
The solar system is accompanied by an educational kiosk at the Eco-Discovery Center that was unveiled last Friday at the ceremony. The interactive display educates visitors about climate change, energy conservation and solar power generation.
“Dedicating FMPA’s first solar project is an important step toward shaping our energy future,” said FMPA General Manager and CEO Nicholas P. Guarriello. “Together with our partners, we’re advancing the development and application of renewable technology and educating the public about their role in creating greener communities.”
“With this project, we met the Utility Board’s criteria: ‘We want it highly visible, we want it where the public can see it and learn from it, and we want it this year!’” said Keys Energy Services General Manager and CEO Lynne Tejeda.
Project demonstrates “peel and stick” technology
This solar partnership supports the development of renewable generation technologies by demonstrating the use of an advanced solar photovoltaic technology.
The project uses a “peel and stick” solar system that generates electricity with an innovative thin-film solar panel mounted to a rooftop using an adhesive material. The technology was selected as the best match for the Florida Keys’ unique environmental conditions. Other advantages of the technology include the ability to capture the complete solar spectrum more efficiently and the ability to generate in low-light conditions. Additionally, the panels’ flexible, lightweight construction made it possible to complete installation over a period of only 10 days. The panels were energized Dec. 23, 2009.
The project cost $235,928, with FMPA’s All-Requirements Project paying 62% and NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries paying 38%. Keys Energy Services, through an existing agreement with FMPA, will provide operation and maintenance support for the system.
“Solar power is not currently the least-cost option, but it can have a role in a diversified power generation portfolio,” said Guarriello. “The knowledge we gain from operating the system will prove valuable in the future when renewables become cost effective and a greater part of the power mix.”
Kiosk educates public about energy, the environment
Educating the public is a key element of this partnership. The project is located at the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center where an array of interactive exhibits, dioramas and displays, including a 2,500 gallon aquarium, highlight the rich natural environment of the Florida Keys.
“What better place to highlight this renewable energy project than a public facility that educates visitors on the beautiful marine resources of the Florida Keys,” said Sanctuary Superintendent Sean Morton.
The Center’s newest exhibit is a kiosk that provides information about global climate change, energy conservation and renewable generating technologies. The kiosk features an interactive display that shows the solar system’s electrical output and environmental offsets in real time. Additionally, the real-time solar monitoring system can be viewed online at http://www.keysecosolar.com
More than 100,000 people have visited the Eco-Discovery Center since its opening in 2007. The educational kiosk provides a unique opportunity to reach a wide audience from around the world with the project’s conservation message.
“By showcasing solar technology, we aim to inspire visitors to conserve energy, reduce pollution and in the process, help preserve natural resources,” added Morton.
Solar helps utilities reduce greenhouse gases
Solar generation technology produces no emissions, helping Florida’s municipal electric utilities reduce greenhouse emissions. This demonstration project is part of FMPA’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions back to year-2000 levels by 2017.
Using this solar system for one year has the capability to eliminate the equivalent of 71,800 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It will also be equivalent to taking six cars off the road, or saving 76 barrels of oil, or saving 835 trees, or recycling 11 tons of waste.
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Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA) is a wholesale power company owned by 30 municipal electric utilities. FMPA provides economies of scale in power generation and related services to support community-owned electric utilities. The members of FMPA serve approximately 2 million Floridians. FMPA’s members include Alachua, Bartow, Blountstown, Bushnell, Chattahoochee, Clewiston, Fort Meade, Fort Pierce, Gainesville, Green Cove Springs, Havana, Homestead, Jacksonville Beach, Key West, Kissimmee, Lake Worth, Lakeland, Leesburg, Moore Haven, Mount Dora, New Smyrna Beach, Newberry, Ocala, Orlando, Quincy, St. Cloud, Starke, Vero Beach, Wauchula and Williston.
Keys Energy Services (KEYS) is the public power utility for Key West and the Lower Florida Keys. Headquartered in Key West, Fla., KEYS provides electricity from Key West to the Seven-Mile Bridge and serves more than 28,000 customers.
Established in 1990, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects 2,900 square nautical miles of important marine habitat, including maritime heritage resources, as well as coral reef, hard bottom, seagrass meadows, mangrove communities and sand flats. NOAA and the state of Florida manage the sanctuary.
NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.