03/26/2010 ~ Keys Energy Services (KEYS), the Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary dedicated a new solar demonstration project at a ceremony on Friday, March 26th.
The 26 kilowatt (AC) solar photovoltaic system was installed at the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center in December 2009. The solar system is jointly owned by FMPA and NOAA and operated by KEYS. The system now provides about 30-percent of the Center’s power needs and is part of FMPA’s statewide network of power generating resources serving 14 communities located throughout Florida, from the Panhandle to Key West.
The solar system is accompanied by an educational kiosk at the Eco-Discovery Center that was unveiled during the ceremony. The interactive display educates visitors about climate change, energy conservation, and solar power generation.
“With this project, we met the Utility Board’s criteria: ‘We want it highly visible, we want it where the public can see it and learn from it, and we want it this year!,’” said Lynne Tejeda, KEYS’ General Manager & CEO.
“Dedicating FMPA’s first solar project is an important step toward shaping our energy future,” said Nicholas P. Guarriello, FMPA General Manager & CEO. “Together with our partners, we’re advancing the development and application of renewable technology and educating the public about their role in creating greener communities.”
PROJECT DEMONSTRATES “PEEL AND STICK” SOLAR TECHNOLOGY
This solar partnership supports the development of renewable generation technologies by demonstrating the use of an advanced solar photovoltaic technology.
This project uses a “peel and stick” solar system that generates electricity with an innovative thin-film solar panel mounted to the Center’s rooftop using an adhesive material. The technology was selected as the best match for the Florida Keys’ unique environmental conditions. Other advantages of the technology include the ability to capture the complete solar spectrum more efficiently and the ability to generate at low-light conditions. Additionally, the panels’ flexible, lightweight construction made it possible to complete installation over a period of only 10-days. The panels were energized on December 23, 2009.
The project cost $235,928, with FMPA’s All-Requirements Project paying 62-percent and NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries paying 38-percent. KEYS, through an existing agreement with FMPA, will provide operation and maintenance support for the system.
“Solar power is not currently the least-cost option, but it has a role in a diversified power generation portfolio,” said Guarriello. “The knowledge we gain from operating the system will prove valuable in the future when renewables become cost effective and a greater part of the power mix.”
INTERACTIVE KIOSK WILL EDUCATE PUBLIC ABOUT SOLAR
Educating the public is a key element of this partnership. The project is located at the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center where an array of interactive exhibits, dioramas, and displays, including a 2,500 gallon aquarium, highlight the rich natural environment of the Florida Keys.
“What better place to highlight this renewable energy project than a public facility that educates visitors on the beautiful marine resources of the Florida Keys,” said Sanctuary Superintendent Sean Morton.
The Center’s newest exhibit is a kiosk that provides information about global climate change, energy conservation, and renewable generating technologies. The kiosk features an interactive display that shows the solar system’s electrical output and environmental offsets in real time. Additionally, the real time solar monitoring system can be viewed online at http://www.keysecosolar.com. KEYS customers can also access this monitoring system at http://www.keysenergy.com/keys-goes-solar.php.
More than 100,000 people have visited the Eco-Discovery Center since its opening in 2007. The educational kiosk provides a unique opportunity to reach a wide audience from around the world with the project’s conservation message.
“By showcasing solar technology, we aim to inspire visitors to conserve energy, reduce pollution and in the process, help preserve natural resources,” added Morton.
SOLAR HELPS UTILITIES REDUCE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS
Solar generation technology produces no emissions, helping Florida’s municipal electric utilities reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This demonstration project is part of FMPA’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions back to year-2000 levels by 2017.
Using this solar system for one year has the capability to eliminate the equivalent of 71,800 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It will also be equivalent to taking six cars off the road, or saving 76 barrels of oil, or saving 835 trees, or recycling 11 tons of waste.
Keys Energy Services (KEYS) is the public power utility for Key West and the Lower Florida Keys. Headquartered in Key West, Florida, KEYS provides electricity form Key West to the Seven-Mile Bridge and serves more than 28,000 customers.
Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA) is a wholesale power company owned by 30 municipal electric utilities. FMPA provides economies of scale in power generation and related services to support community-owned electric utilities. The members of FMPA serve approximately 2-million Floridians. FMPA’s members include Alachua, Bartow, Blountstown, Bushnell, Chattahoochee, Clewiston, Fort Meade, Fort Pierce, Gainesville, Green Cove Springs, Havana, Homestead, Jacksonville Beach, Key West, Kissimmee, Lake Worth, Lakeland, Leesburg, Moore Haven, Mount Dora, New Smyrna Beach, Newberry, Ocala, Orlando, Quincy, St. Cloud, Starke, Vero Beach, Wauchula, and Williston. Additional information is available on the internet at www.fmpa.com.
Established in 1990, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects 2,900 square nautical miles of important marine habitat, including maritime heritage resources, as well as coral reef, hard bottom, seagrass meadows, mangrove communities and sand flats. NOAA and the state of Florida manage the sanctuary.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages coastal and marine resources.
PHOTO CAPTION: (From left) Utility Board Chairman Lou Hernandez, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent Sean Morton, KEYS’ General Manager & CEO Lynne Tejeda, FMPA General Manager & CEO Nicholas Guarriello, FMPA Executive Committee Chairman Thomas Richards, and Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, NOAA Deputy Director for Facilities, Safety, Vessels & Aviation Ted Lillestolen applaud the unveiling to the Solar Demonstration Project interactive kiosk in the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center.