A solar canopy to provide shade and generate up to 25 kilowatts of electricity will soon be up and running at Pelican Beach Park in Satellite Beach as a demonstration project under the Florida Power & Light SolarNow program.
The three-year pilot SolarNow program started in 2016. Brevard County already has the most SolarNow projects up and running of any county statewide, with three solar trees, and both the Brevard Zoo and Palm Bay City Hall, with five solar trees located at Port Canaveral. Statewide there are 14 SolarNow sites including the Brevard sites. The Pelican Beach Park canopy should be up and running by summer 2018 with FPL installing and maintaining the project at no cost to the city.
The energy generated from these assets is fed to the grid and benefits the entire community, said FPL spokesperson Lisa Paul.
“The solar canopy that will be installed in the parking lot of Pelican Beach Park will not only generate electricity, it will provide shade over a portion of the parking lot and will also show the community that Satellite Beach is promoting examples of cleaner energy,’’ said Satellite Beach Environmental Programs Coordinator Nick Sanzone.
The project fits in with some of the Green Achievement Targets included in the City’s Sustainability Action Plan 2017.
“Sometimes a statue can inspire people to reflect and take action to make a better tomorrow; in this case we hope that seeing the solar canopy will remind people that solar power is an available option and is supported by the city,’’ Sanzone said.
The SolarNow program allows FPL customers to enjoy the benefits of 100 percent clean Florida sunshine in their communities, without the upfront costs of installing solar systems on their home or business.
“It’s going to be a canopy that provides covered parking and on top of it can generate 25KW back into the grid to provide emissions-free electricity for all FPL customers. Covered parking is something people in Florida are definitely looking for,’’ she said.
There are about 25,000 participants signed up for SolarNow across the state to help create the smaller solar energy projects. Should ratepayers choose to enroll in the FPL SolarNow program, $9 will be added to their monthly FPL electric bill to join other customers who are helping to support the development of solar energy projects in local communities.
The funds generated by the enrollment fees go toward the construction of solar energy projects such as solar canopies and free-standing solar trees in local public areas, such as parks, zoos, schools and museums. FPL installs, operates and maintains the projects under lease agreements like the one recently approved by the Satellite Beach City Council for the Pelican Beach Park canopy expected to be installed this spring.
“The idea behind this is to bring the projects into the communities where they get to see it, interact with it, get up close to it and have the opportunity to see more solar opportunities,’’ she said.
In Brevard County there are 1,186 SolarNow customers with 34 of those living in Satellite Beach, she said.
And, while the SolarNow sign ups don’t directly relate to where the FPL projects will take place, they do indicate where there is support, Paul said. “They want to see it in their community so we want to bring it into those communities,’’ she said.
The project is based on the formula that one kilowatt equals the power needed for one classroom. Using that formula, Pelican Beach Park canopy will generate enough power for a small elementary school, she said.
“I think people are excited about solar coming to their communities and we’re seeing that with more people participating in the program,’’ Paul said.
The Naples Zoo has a larger solar canopy coming on line capable of generating 205KW with a 53KW canopy in Punta Gorda. FPL also is involved in much larger solar power generation projects in fields out in rural areas like one in Barefoot Bay but those have restricted public access.