Valparaiso, Fla. -
Things are looking a little brighter in Okaloosa County today as the Eglin Air Force Base solar field hits an impressive milestone.
Gulf power celebrated the half way mark of the largest solar project in terms of megawatts for the U.S. Air Force in the world. This project spans over 240 acres.
"We're at the half way milestone of 1.5 million panels. So, that's a lot of panels and we hope to be live and online by the middle of the summer," said spokesman for Gulf Power, Jeff Rogers.
The project will support the Department of Defense's commitment to renewable energy and help Gulf Power's mission to provide safe, affordable and environmentally responsible energy to Northwest Florida.
"The main impact for Northwest Florida is about 18,000 homes will be able to be powered by these solar rays. And greater than that, it speaks to our philosophy of a balanced energy mix. What that is, is all of the above approach: the cleaner than ever coal, natural gas, wind and now solar. You know, some of the largest east of the Mississippi able to bring that to Northwest Florida," explained Rogers.
Not only does this project help the environment and power homes, but it has also brought jobs to the local area.
"I think it's a great thing for the local economy. They are in the process of building these things that boost the numbers and it's putting a lot of people to work," said Andy Kuzilik, Coronal Energy Construction Manager.
This large solar project includes the installation of 1.5 million solar panels. To give you an idea of how large it is, it is equivalent to 181 football fields. Gulf Power says this project will help keep their customer's power bills as cheap as possible.
"It helps insulate our customers from fluctuating fuel prices when we generate electricity. And really it's great for the environment and we are happy to do it," said Rogers.
The Eglin AFB 's large-scale solar complex is just one of three military installations under construction by Gulf Power and a third-party developer.