More clean energy is on its way to the Panhandle, along with a boost to the local economy

Published: Jan. 19, 2021 at 10:47 PM CST
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CALHOUN COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - “I think solar is great, but not in my front door,” long-time Calhoun County resident Byron Allen said.

There was controversy at the Calhoun County Planning Commission Meeting Tuesday night and Allen was among those expressing concerns. Florida Power and Light was seeking approval for two solar farms they say will benefit the community.

“They [Florida Power and Light officials] are just talking to get stuff passed to grease their pockets. That’s all they’re doing. They care nothing about the folks that live here,” said Allen.

Allen, among other residents, said they are worried about property values going down and do not agree with the location of these farms.

“No one’s going to want it and anybody in their right mind wouldn’t walk into the middle of a solar farm and buy a house,” said Allen.

While residents came into this meeting not happy about the idea of the two solar farms, both projects passed four to one.

“We’re really excited for this opportunity to bring this clean energy solution to Calhoun County and provide not only a clean energy future here, but provide additional revenues,” FPL Project Developer Stephen Heiman said.

Heiman said these solar farms will provide additional tax revenue, and about 500 jobs during the peak of construction. H adds the two farms will bring around $600,000 in tax revenue to the county just in the first year alone.

“One of the benefits of these solar power plants is that they’re virtually unmanned. So once operational, there’s no increase to traffic here, there’s nobody on sight, you just have solar panels sitting in a field operating quietly,” said Heiman.

Heiman said the solar farms will bring more emissions-free, renewable energy to the Sunshine State. He adds while they understand local property owners do have concerns, they are committed to keeping in constant communication throughout the process.

The Flowers Creek project is set to start in early 2022 and the Chipola River project will follow later in the year. FPL officials said they have solar farms all over the state, 33 are in operation and nine are currently under construction.

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