50 projects picked for feed-in tariff; residential capacity still available

Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 5:10 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 5:10 p.m.

The city of Gainesville has selected 50 projects totaling approximately 2.4 megawatts of additional capacity for the solar feed-in tariff this year.

At this point, the city still has 30 kilowatts of capacity available for residential properties on a first-come, first-served basis.

Last Friday, the city announced that 21 homes and a total of 170 kilowatts were selected this year for the program, which pays a premium for solar-generated power.

The city received 117 applications for non-residential and commercial properties, according to Gainesville Regional Utilities. A random lottery drawing selected 29 projects totaling 2.3 megawatts of additional capacity.

Solar Impact, the largest solar firm in the area, submitted 80 projects and had 21 selected. The firm had 19 solar arrays selected for 12 Alachua County public schools, including Buchholz, Gainesville, Loften and Eastside high schools. Four separate solar arrays ranging in size from 25 to 50 megawatts were selected for Meadowbrook Elementary.

The School Board and Solar Impact have a contract in place for Solar Impact to lease roof space for the installation solar arrays. That agreement currently generates some $123,000 annually in lease revenue for the school district, said Barry Jacobson, the co-owner of Solar Impact.

Jacobson said that the projects selected last week will increase the rental revenue for the school district.

Recently, the agreement between the firm and the School Board led to issues at one school, Kanapaha Middle. There, solar arrays were installed on old roofs with brittle shingles. Some of the roofs later sprang leaks and district officials acknowledged the installation of the solar panels may have worsened the condition of roofs that already needed replacement.

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