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Tallahassee Begins Installing First Of 200,000 Solar Panels

James Clarke Ash

City officials began installing the first of more than 200,000 photovoltaic panels Tuesday on a 120-acre solar farm on airport property.

When completed sometime in December, the 20-megawatt facility should provide enough renewable energy to  power about 3,400 homes.

Deputy City Manager Reese Goad says local residents are signing up in droves for a program that lets them buy solar power without installing their own systems.

“We’ve subscribed more than 80 percent of the energy that’s going to come out of this plant already.

And we’ve got an open enrollment period through the end of the year or until it’s full. So my guess is it will be fully subscribed shortly.”

Origis Energy of Miami is the prime contractor for the solar farm and company officials say all of the materials are manufactured in the United States.

Technicians say most of the connecting cables are already installed in underground trenches. The panels are fixed, so with no motors to tilt them along the sun's path, maintenance will be minimal.

The facility connects directly to the grid. City officials are already planning a second solar farm.

Correction: This story initially listed the number of solar panels in the farm as 90,000.

A Miami native, former WFSU reporter Jim Ash is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print. He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.