By Cindy Jo Ayers
Danny Collins of Duke Energy was the guest speaker at the Gilchrist Rotary Club at noon this past Monday. Collin’s talk was mostly on the Solar Power Plant being built on CR307A just Northwest of Trenton.
Collins said that Duke Energy serves half of Florida currently. He said they have begun investing in renewable power such as the Trenton Solar Power facility. According to Collins currently 35% of Duke’s power comes from natural gas, 27% comes from coal, 19% from nuclear power plants and 17% is renewable power. Renewable includes solar, wind, and biomass according to Collins. These are approximate percentages given by Collins.
He went on to say that Solar Power Plants such as the new one in Trenton are cheaper to build now than coal powered plants. He also went on to say that from time to time solar power had to be subsidized by other sources like on cloudy days. Duke is building solar power plants scattered around the state so they can capture the sun wherever the weather is good.
The Trenton Solar Plant is expected to be finished and on line by the end of this year. It will have taken a total of nine months to build the nearly 600 acre solar plant. The project has generated around 300 jobs, many of which were filled by local workers. Collins predicted that if the local workers want to transfer to other solar plant sites it was possible because four more will be built within an hours drive of the Trenton Solar Plant. All four will be built in the very near future.
Collins went on to say that the Trenton Solar Plant will power 23,000 homes when finished.
A buffer of vegetation will be added when the plant is completed. Duke has found that in spite of the high fence around solar fields deer, rabbits and other wildlife including rattlesnakes will inhabit solar fields when they are completed.
During the meeting it was reported that 80% of the solar field is exempted from property tax. Property Appraiser Damon Leggett stated that he was still not sure how much the property tax will generate for the county.
Collins also reported that a 11-megawatt lithium-based battery storage facility will be located in Trenton. He was not sure when the construction would begin because Duke Energy is still going through permitting process now.
According to a Duke information release the energy storage project will continue to improve reliability using new technologies. There will also be two other battery facilities built in Florida, one to service Cape San Blas and one to service Jennings, both will be half the size of the one in Trenton. The new facility is slated to be built on property located in Southwest Trenton, in front of the current Duke Energy Operations Office, which is located behind Drummond Community Bank off State Road 26. Currently the company plans to complete all three battery facilities by the end of 2020.
According to Collins, the battery storage facility in Trenton will improve grid operations, increase efficiencies and improve overall reliability for surrounding communities. They will also provide important backup generation during power outages. Collins said that during an outage the power would be limited and might only last two hours but there would be some backup power. When the battery storage facility is completed, it will be housed in two large metal warehouses and that is all that will be visible from the roadway. These battery facilities will be the first of a handful in the state of Florida according to Collins.
Trenton Solar Plant to be completed on time and a battery storage facility will be built here in near future
By Cindy Jo Ayers