Distributed Energy Resources

Tallahassee takes key steps tied to meeting net renewable energy goals

The City of Tallahassee, Fla., recently took two significant steps toward its net renewable energy goals.

The City Commission on Feb. 26 unanimously voted to reserve a portion of the solar energy output from a solar farm to serve all city buildings and is moving forward with the implementation of an Energy Integrated Resource Planning (EIRP) process in conjunction with developing a community-wide Clean Energy Plan.

"The City of Tallahassee's 60-megawatt, airport-based solar facility, the largest of its kind in the world, is now in operation," Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey said, adding that the city is “proud to be the first of 33 public power utilities in Florida to power 100 percent of our City buildings with solar energy." 

The solar decision will direct approximately 21.2 million kilowatt hours, or roughly 26 percent, of the 80 million kilowatt hours available to the meet the city's electric needs. The remaining solar energy output will be available to city utility customers who sign up for Tallahassee Solar, the City's solar subscription program.

"Florida public power is on the leading edge of innovation when it comes to solar energy, and our communities continue to further their commitment to renewable energy," said Amy Zubaly, Florida Municipal Electric Association Executive Director. "Congratulations to the City of Tallahassee for becoming the first public power utility to fully power municipal buildings using the sun's energy."

The clean energy resolution was unanimously adopted by the City Commission on Feb. 20, 2019. The resolution outlines the city's goal of moving the organization and community to 100 percent net renewable energy by 2050 and outlined specific milestone markers. One of the markers -- to have "all City facilities using 100 percent renewable energy no later than 2035" -- was met with the Feb. 26 decision.

The EIRP process is a multifaceted planning process that considers long-term energy system needs and various power supply alternatives; seeks to develop plans that balance supply side, demand side and community priorities; and ensures reliable operations that meet all regulatory, environmental and societal requirements. This process will lead to the development of the city's Clean Energy Plan and will include opportunities for public engagement.

The City's first utility-scale solar farm became operational in January 2018. Before the 20-MW, 120-acre facility was complete, its expected energy output was 100 percent accounted for by City utility customers.

With continued demand for solar energy, the city began construction on its second solar farm, a 40-MW, 280-acre facility, which was recently completed. Combined, the farms bring the city's total solar energy output to roughly 120-million kilowatt hours annually.

Moving forward, the city said it will continue to support its commitment to sustainability by implementing key pieces outlined in the resolution. Already, the City's electric utility has reduced emissions beyond the set goals for both the 2020 Paris Accord and the Kyoto protocol and is on track to surpass the 2025 Paris Accord goal soon.