The 200,000 solar panels at Bay Trail Renewable Energy Center in Crystal River, Florida, will generate enough electricity to power roughly 23,000 homes with renewable energy. They’ll also help Duke Energy customers save money.
Bay Trail is the first of 10 solar sites that are part of a new Duke Energy program in Florida called Clean Energy Connection. Customers from large businesses to local governments and residents can subscribe to the program for a monthly fee based on how much electricity their home or business uses.
Their fees will help build $1 billion of solar in Florida. Customers will earn credit toward their bill for the electricity generated by the solar plants, and the credits will eventually exceed their monthly subscription fee, resulting in a lower electric bill.
Program manager Derick Farfan said income-qualified customers will see savings immediately while they estimate others will begin saving in around four years with a break-even point in roughly seven years.
“Once customers see those economics,” Farfan said, “they love the idea of it.”
While the program lasts for 30 years, it’s flexible. Customers can choose to un-enroll after as little as one month. If they move, the subscription will transfer to a new address in Duke Energy’s Florida service area. This program also allows renters to participate.
“It gives a lot of our customers the opportunity,” he said, “to participate in the crossover to renewables as a source of energy.”
Building 750 megawatts of solar generation in Florida will advance Duke Energy’s goals of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and expanding its renewable portfolio, too.
Farfan has worked on several programs to help Duke Energy customers be more energy efficient since joining the company in 2008, but Clean Energy Connection is the largest. After over a year of planning and building, he said he’s excited to help customers meet their renewable goals and give low-income customers a chance to play a role in the development of more solar power.
“This is our largest shared solar program that we've ever had, so there are things we've never done,” Farfan said. “It's exciting to be on the cusp of this transition and to help customers play a role here.”