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“Flipping the Switch” on the Gulf Coast Solar Center Portfolio

August 22, 2017

By Ed Feo

Today marked an incredible moment for Coronal Energy and its partners at Panasonic, Gulf Power, the United States Air Force, and the United States Navy. In a moment of symbolism underpinning a project some three years in the making, we “flipped the switch” on the Gulf Coast Solar Center portfolio and began generating 120 MW of clean power on the grid in Northwest Florida. Of all the solar projects I’ve worked on, the Gulf Coast Solar Center stands out—and always will—for the dedication and perseverance shown by each and every team member.

All three sites—NAS Naval Outlying Landing Field (NOLF) Saufley, NAS Naval Outlying Landing Field (NOLF) Holley, and Eglin Air Force Base Reservation—are marvels to behold. Each is a scientifically engineered, technically robust, and truly powerful example of the best type of facility that renewable energy has to offer. The Gulf Coast Solar Center portfolio is built to serve its customers for decades to come and we applaud Gulf Power for leaning in on solar development and for partnering with Coronal Energy to deliver it.

This project is our country’s largest combined solar facility on Department of Defense property. It is the largest combined solar project in Florida, and one of the largest combined solar projects east of the Mississippi River. Incredible.

In total, the three facilities will leverage enough solar panels that if installed in Washington, D.C., the solar field would very nearly cover the National Mall, all of its monuments and museums. All told, 1.5 million solar panels have been incorporated in this project — an impressive number, and one that represents a significant investment on behalf of each project partner. And all of them were made in the USA.


A few more numbers worth mentioning:

  • The Gulf Coast Power Center spans nearly 1,000 acres that would otherwise go unused
  • It created nearly 450 jobs, 98 percent of which were local hires
  • It is capable of reducing emissions by 3.5 million tons over 25 years; that is equivalent to removing more than 670,000 cars from the road for a year
  • It will generate enough energy for 18,000 homes
  • And all of that is done without any cost of fuel—just the free sunlight landing on Pensacola every day.

Those statistics help tell what I believe is a critically important story: energy diversity is vital to our nation’s economy, and our security.

In a world that requires constant adaptability—in response to technological advancements, political changes or economic shifts—integrating solar power into military bases contributes to our communities’ energy resilience and economic development.

The ways in which the military can utilize renewable energy are nearly unlimited. And many of them help reduce our dependence on foreign-sourced energy.

This project highlights the positive impacts that can be made when organizations—despite their operational and functional differences—decide they want to sit down together and work toward a common goal.

Coronal Energy, powered by Panasonic, provides clean, reliable and affordable solar power to customers and communities across the country. We are proud of what we do.

My team and I are honored to have played a role in the formation of this solar project, and I am heartened by the relationships that have developed with both the Air Force and Navy because of it. 

Ed Feo is the President of Coronal Energy.

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