Largest Solar Power Plant in the US Unveiled
Yesterday President Obama traveled to Arcadia, Florida – the town’s first presidential visit ever – to unveil the nation’s largest solar power plant. With more than 90,000 solar panels, the plant will power 3,000 homes and produce 25 megawatts of energy.
More solar power is on the horizon: two more solar plants in Florida are getting ready to come online, including one that will make three times as much energy as Arcadia, and solar plants are also planned in the near future in California and Nevada. In China, the government has commissioned a U.S. company to build a plant that would produce 80 times more solar energy than the new Florida plant.
Part of the attraction is that the cost of solar energy has been dropping, while the price of fossil fuels is rising – the Arcadia plant finished $22 million under budget. Some experts predict that within a couple years, the cost of a solar power plant will be the same as the cost of a coal-fired plant.
Florida Governor Charlie Crist, a Republican, did not attend the event in Arcadia, though he once supported construction of solar power installations and a renewable portfolio standard to force Florida power companies to develop renewable sources. That law that was defeated in the Florida legislature.
While there, Obama applauded the solar plant as a move toward a clean energy economy and told the crowd how stimulus money would be applied to that goal. “I’m pleased to announce that, under the Recovery Act, we are making the largest-ever investment in a smarter, stronger and more secure electric grid,” he said. “This investment will come in the form of 100 grants totaling $3.4 billion, grants that will go to private companies, utilities, cities and other partners who have applied with plans to install smart grid technologies in their area.”
– Suzanne Bopp