Harnessing the Power of Sunshine
If you've noticed your lights have a slight green glow it's because FKEC’s two solar arrays, the first grid-connected arrays to be installed in the Florida Keys, have been capturing the sun’s energy to help power homes and businesses served by the Cooperative since the first array was installed in 2008. And as of June 2016, the array has contributed over 1 million kilowatt hours of solar generated power to our system.
In 2008, FKEC applied for and received $1 million worth of funding from the Internal Revenue Service’s Clean Renewable Energy Bond program, administered by the CFC. FKEC used the bond to install approximately 120 total kilowatts of solar power generation. The Marathon array, located next to the Marathon office building, was the first phase with a maximum capacity of 96.6 kilowatts. A smaller array, installed inside FKEC’s Crawl Key Substation, was the second phase with a maximum capacity of 21 kilowatts.
The first panels in the Marathon array were connected to FKEC’s power grid in November 2008 and the entire array went online December 16. The Marathon array consists of 552 separate 175-watt solar modules tied directly into FKEC’s electric grid, and the Crawl Key array adds an additional 120 panels.
"FKEC is committed to finding alternative energy solutions and we are proud to be adding clean, green power to our system," said CEO Scott Newberry.
Performance vs. Promise
The expected output of both arrays prior to installation was an estimated 127,000 kilowatt hours per year, or the energy to power about 14 average homes. The Marathon array alone exceeded this promise in less than a year without even adding in the output of Crawl Key.
Perspective on Total Contribution
Even with both arrays performing above expectations, their combined total contribution to FKEC’s energy mix is still less than 1 percent of the roughly 650 million kilowatt hours the Co-op sells annually. This is equivalent to the power consumed by approximately 14 average homes.
Solar Power & You
If you are considering installing solar panels on your home, FKEC does offer interconnectivity with its system, but a much simpler route to “green” power is FKEC’s new Simple Solar program. The program allows you to lease solar panels in FKEC’s current array and then receive bill credits every month equal to the retail value of the energy produced by your leased panel(s). Read more details about Simple Solar online now.
“We are proud to be exploring green energy solutions and hope the next generation solar module will be more efficient and less expensive,” Newberry said. “We are also interested in wind power and the possibilities of tidal energy development. We see this project as a first step in the right direction.”
View Solar Array Performance
By visiting the above link you can view the performance of the Marathon solar array including daily, monthly and cumulative energy production. The data website also converts the energy production values into equivalents, such as the amount of CO 2 emissions saved by the generation of solar power versus traditional power generation.
The data website also provides graphs showing the daily energy production of the array plotted along with the amount of sunshine available (called irradiance) throughout the course of the day.