County-Wide Distributed Solar Rising in Popularity

This is an important trend for solar – projects are moving beyond single installations to county-wide distributed projects.

Camden County, New Jersey

Camden County, New Jersey is embarking on a county-wide solar project for its offices, libraries, and college campuses.

The $49 million project will install rooftop and ground-mounted solar, totaling 7 megawatts.

The County sees it as a way to cut electricity bills to help offset declining property taxes. It’s part of a "countywide transformation effort" to make operations more efficient.

Solar developers from across the country have responded to the RFP, which has a deadline of December 8. One of the developers may agree to finance the project or the county will borrow the funds.

Hardee County, Florida

Florida-based National Solar Power plans to build 10 solar farms across the county for $70 million each.  

Construction, which begins in the second quarter of 2012, is expected to take six months for each 20 MW farm, which will supply power for 2,000 homes.

The solar developer, who is lining up financing, plans to sell electricity from the 200-megawatt farm to the local utility, Progress Energy Florida. It says it has power purchase agreements for 3000 MW of solar farms in the Southeast.

About 200 solar jobs will be created and the county will collect about $92 million in taxes over the next 30 years.

A couple of months ago, National Power announced it would build a similar project in Gadsden County – the biggest in the southeast. The $1.5 billion, 400 MW project will also consist of 20 smaller plants on 200 acres each. 

National Solar Power also announced the creation of Green Infrastructure Partners, LLC to attract accredited individual and institutional investors to help fund renewable energy infrastructure projects like these. 

Also in Florida, BlueChip Energy broke ground on the 120 MW Sorrento Solar Farm in Lake County.

The solar PV plant includes what the company calls "new generation" PV ground mount systems for utility scale projects. Helical anchors make the installation of large PV solar projects more efficient and cost effective, they say.

Taiwan-based Neo Solar Power is providing its high-efficiency solar cells in exchange for equity participation.

Earlier this year, BlueChip built a 1.2 MW phase of the Rinehart Solar Farm in Seminole County, the largest rooftop PV installation in Florida.

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