National Solar Power is continuing in its efforts to catch up with New Jersey’s and California’s solar markets. Last week the company announced its third utility-scale PV farm in the Sunshine State. This time, the company announced plans to build a PV farm in Liberty County, Florida.
It’s the third project the company has announced since September 2011. Its first project is a 400-megawatt PV farm in Gadsden County, Fla. It’s second is a 200-megawatt farm in Hardee County, Fla., which it announced in December 2011.
The company also is looking into developing projects in other southeastern states, according Ryan Banfill, a spokesperson for National Solar.
“The Liberty plant will be up to 100 megawatts in size and represent an up-to-$350-million investment. It’s on some land that’s near where National Solar is planning the farm in Gadsden County,” Banfill said. “It’s like low-index timberland. There are a lot of trees over in that part of Florida.”
National Solar is taking a different approach to developing giant PV projects in the desert southwest. It’s securing 200-acre plots of land, on which it can build 20-megawatt arrays, according to Banfill. The Liberty project would consist of up to five plots.
“A lot of it has to do with how much you can tie into the grid, how much power you can put on,” he said.
At this point all three projects are in their development phases, with the Hardee County project closest to breaking ground.
“They’re doing due diligence land analysis and contracting,” Banfill said.
In the Gadsden County and Liberty County projects, they’re in the contracting and land acquisition stage. National Solar also is awaiting a county-wide ballot in Gadsden County to determine whether or not the project can qualify for property exemptions.
“It would be the key, providing property tax incentives to make the project feasible,” Banfill said.
The company isn’t relying on a renewable portfolio standard, according to Banfill.
“They’ve developed a ground-breaking model. Because of the ways the prices in solar have come down, it’s allowed this business model that National Solar developed to be an attractive model. Partly because it has a low reliance on government funding,” he said.
National Solar already has power-purchase agreements in place with Progress Energy Florida for some of the power that will be produced at these and future sites, according to Banfill. It is actively seeking other on-takers as well.