Following the completion of Tallahassee’s second solar farm at the airport, Tallahassee City Commissioners will vote on introducing an ordinance amending the solar farm customer participation program at their Feb. 12 meeting.
The amendment will add the second solar farm to the customer participation program and reserve enough output for the City to power 100% of its facilities with solar energy.
In January 2018, Tallahassee’s first solar farm began operations, and the City initiated Tallahassee Solar, an optional program that allows electric customers to designate portions of their electricity consumption as solar energy without needing to personally own solar equipment.
Through the program, energy output from the solar farm is directly fed into the power grid in place of some fossil fuel energy. Residential and commercial customers can designate 25%, 50% or 100% of their monthly electricity consumption as solar energy, which is billed at five cents per kWh, a rate that will be fixed until 2037.
The program is currently at capacity with a waiting list of nearly 400 customers.
The annual output of the first solar farm is 37 million kWh. Now, with the second farm operating, an additional 80 million kWh will be available for use after the ordinance is modified.
Staff recommends that the City subscribe to enough solar output to power all of its facilities, which required around 92 million kWhs in FY 2019.
According to the meeting agenda, the cost of the change is estimated to be $440,000 per year.
“Because solar subscribers currently pay a higher fuel rate for solar energy (5 cents vs 3 cents), City departments will see a minimal change in their utility costs in the short term,” staff reports. “Based upon the current fuel rate, City departments would incur utility expenses of about $440,000 per year. Across 25 departments and 243 service points, this would be a 1.1% change to the total City utility budget of $38.4 million.”
If the City transitions to powering all of its facilities with solar energy, the remaining output from the solar farms will be available for commercial and residential customers to subscribe to.
If the Commissioners vote to introduce the ordinance, a public hearing will be scheduled for Feb. 26, 2020.