Land in Jackson County finds new, 'brighter' purpose
Nearly 700 acres of land in Jackson County, Florida may soon come to life again.
Gulf Power is expected to ask the county for permission to build a solar energy plant.
They informed people living near the land on Jackson Road in Jacob, Florida at a public meeting Tuesday night.
According to a city official, this would be the biggest project ever taken on in Jacob.
It would be 300,000 panels spread across hundreds of acres, but before Gulf Power moves forward with the proposal for Jackson County, they wanted to touch base with the people of Jacob.
"This is something new,” said City of Jacob Consultant Ronstance Pittman. “Something that we don't have a lot of knowledge about, but we're getting more knowledge as time goes on."
As consultant for the city of Jacob, Ronstance Pittman is always trying to gather information to help manage change.
When she heard Gulf Power was looking to build a solar plant on an unincorporated side of town, it caught her interest.
"You don't want to alarm people that are living around it,” said Pittman. “You want to make sure they are knowledgeable about the project, they're not misinformed, they are not afraid, and they are embracing what is their neighbors."
Gulf power purchased 697 acres of unused farm land just south of Jackson Road from a private owner a few months ago to build the solar site.
The project would take about eight months to complete, and would require about 200 employees to build.
"What happens is the solar panels will create the energy,” said Gulf Power Spokesperson Rick Delahaya. “It's actually sent over through a substation, and that substation puts it up through the transmission lines and that's available for all of our customers."
The solar energy center would produce 74.5 megawatts of energy. That's enough to power 15,000 homes annually.
The solar panels also would not damage the soil, which means if the site was ever taken down, the farmland would still be useable.
Pittman thinks the solar site could be the start to a bright future for Jacob.
"It is the biggest project we've had in the city so far, so we're hoping it will attract other projects to come in so we can continue to build the city,” said Pittman.
Now that they've informed people nearby, the next step for Gulf Power is to make a proposal to the county commission.
If Gulf Power gets approval, they can start work on the plant as early as this summer.
You can find more information on Gulf Power’s plans for the solar plant on its website: GulfPower.com/Blueindigosolar