Major power companies in Florida and New Mexico announced this week that they would start buying large amounts of energy from certain solar power producers soon.
In New Mexico, Southwestern Public Service Company (SPSC), a subsidiary of Xcel Energy, said that it would buy 50 MW of solar power from SunEdison. From the solar panels being installed on five 10-MW sites, the electricity generated will be able to power 10,000 homes.
In Florida, at practically the same time, Tampa Electric Company received approval from the Florida Public Service Commission to purchase solar power from Energy 5.0’s planned 25-MW plant in Polk County.
These solar power plants will be two of the biggest in the nation when completed. They are expected to offset carbon emissions by millions of tons.
New Mexico Solar Power Contract and Plans
The projects in NM are expected to be finished in 2011 and SPSC will buy the electricity for 20 years under the contract they just agreed to.
Southwestern Public Service Company president and CEO Riley Hill said, “We are thrilled to begin harvesting New Mexico’s rich solar resources.”
In total, New Mexico plans to have 20% of its electricity coming from renewable resources by 2020.
Florida Solar Power Contract and Plans
The solar plant in Polk County, Florida will be built on 350 acres of a reclaimed phosphate mine site. Construction is expected to begin in 2010 (in the Fall). The power produced is expected to provide enough electricity to power 3,400 homes and reduce carbon emissions by 1.2 million tons over the course of the contract. Tampa Electric Company is scheduled to buy electricity from the solar power plant for 25 years.
Energy 5.0 chairman and CEO Bud Cherry said, “The E5.0 team is very excited to be working with Tampa Electric to help make renewables a reality in Florida.”
Biggest Solar Facilities in the United States
Recently, Florida Power & Light, another major electric company in Florida, opened the largest solar photovoltaic system in the nation. It is a 25-MW system with 90,500 solar panels that can power 3,000 homes a year. As you can see, these two projects above will be on a similar level and each may actually power even more homes.
Solar power on a utility scale is starting up in the US!
Image Credit 1: akfx via flickr under a Creative Commons license
Image Credit 2: worldwidewandering via flickr under a Creative Commons license