WASHINGTON COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Washington County is closer to having energy independence after Thursday night’s commission meeting.

Florida Power and Light and Gulf Power are merging to install a solar energy facility near Hammack Road in Vernon.

“It’s a win for Washington County so with this some 850-acre facility, we’ll turn it into a tax revenue basis that offsets some of the burdens on the taxpayers of Washington County,” said Tray Hawkins, County Commission Chair.

Washington County officials said they could use those taxes to improve infrastructure, fix roads, and revitalize schools.

Gulf Power spokesperson, Kimberly Blair, said the benefits don’t stop there.

“It’s going to be bringing renewable energy to Northwest Florida, emissions-free energy in Northwest Florida. It will be like taking 14,000 cars off the road once it’s up and running. Plus, it’s going to be powering about 15,000 homes,” said Blair.

The solar facility won’t impact wetlands.

Also, Florida Power and Light officials staying away from the conservation district at this specific site.

“Folks had concerns with environmental impacts and such and so we were happy to explain that we have very little impacts on the environment,” said Brandon Eckard, Florida Power and Light project developer.

Eckard said the next step is to convert the land to grassy pasture.

They hope to start that process late this year or at the start of 2022, and then begin construction next summer.