Make us your home page

Energy company plans solar farm in northeast Pasco

ESA Renewables is proposing a 90-acre, 15-megawatt solar panel farm in rural northeast Pasco County.

Times file (2016)

ESA Renewables is proposing a 90-acre, 15-megawatt solar panel farm in rural northeast Pasco County.

DADE CITY — An alternative energy company is proposing to build and operate a 90-acre, 15-megawatt solar panel farm in rural Pasco County.

ESA Renewables, headquartered in Castellón, Spain, is targeting property — purchased in 2016 by state Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, and his wife, Kathy — for a solar photovoltaic production facility.

The land, with a Ramsey Road address but abutting Blanton Road, previously had been owned by a subsidiary of Wells Fargo. It had been the proposed site of a controversial housing development called College Hill because of its close proximity to the Pasco-Hernando State College campus outside Dade City. That proposal never came to fruition after running into stiff opposition from local residents advocating for rural protections for the undeveloped northeast portion of the county.

"That's something I think we're probably going to like," one of those advocates, Nancy Hazelwood of Blanton, said about the proposed solar farm.

"I'd much rather have solar panels there than a bunch of houses and apartments," Jill Yelverton of Blanton, who also pushed the county to approve the rural northeast Pasco protections, said in agreement.

ESA Renewables' production facility would take up to 16 weeks to build "and then operate with nearly zero traffic activity for the next 30 years," according to the preliminary information it submitted to Pasco County. The company's senior project developer and chief technology officer were scheduled to meet Monday with Pasco County planners to discuss the project in what's known as a pre-application meeting.

The company, which has offices in Sanford, already has more than 500 solar production facilities in the United States, including in Winter Park and Orlando, and in Puerto Rico, Spain, Chile and Italy. Simpson declined to comment, citing a nondisclosure clause.

Nationally, an average of 164 homes can be powered by 1 megawatt of solar energy, though the number can fluctuate based on the amount of sunshine, household consumption, temperature and wind, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Using that criteria, the proposed plant in northeast Pasco could power roughly 2,460 homes. That would put it on par with ESA Renewables' recently announced plant in South Carolina's Aiken County, which the company described as an $11 million, utility-scale solar farm capable of powering almost 2,400 single-family homes annually.

ESA Renewables' proposal comes on the heels of the 2016 voter approval of Amendment 4 to the Florida Constitution, granting tax exemptions for solar energy equipment.

Energy company plans solar farm in northeast Pasco 04/27/17 [Last modified: Thursday, May 4, 2017 12:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. What ever happened to the Zika epidemic?


    Remember Zika?

    The last time Gov. Rick Scott warned Floridians about the potential threat of the mosquito-borne virus was in July, when he urged residents to still be vigilant against bug bites and standing water. At the time, doctors and researchers were bracing for what was supposed to be another active summer …

    Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, responsible for transmitting Zika, sit in a petri dish at the Fiocruz Institute in Recife, Brazil. Cases of the virus are down dramatically this year in Florida, the result of awareness efforts, experts say. But the public, they add, should not let its guard down. [Associated Press]
  2. Pinellas licensing board needs cash. Will the county give it any?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– The grand jury that said Pinellas County should not take over the troubled construction licensing board also said the county should bail out the agency before it goes broke in 2018.

    Pinellas County Commission chair Janet Long isn't keen on the idea of the county loaning money to keep the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board afloat. The county has no say over the independent agency, which could run out of funding in 2018. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  3. Is the Bundt cake back? How retro baked goods are becoming trendy again


    Once there were grunts and slumps, buckles and brown betties. Oh, and pandowdies and sonkers. In the olden days, people routinely made angel food cakes, tomato soup cakes and hummingbird cakes. These were not Duncan Hines mixes, but rather confections made from scratch following yellowed and stained recipes in your …

    Nothing Bundt Cakes in Tampa offers a variety of options, from tiny “bundtinis” and 10-inch cakes that serve 18 to 20 people. Core flavors include lemon, marble, red velvet and chocolate-chocolate chip, with featured flavors like confetti.
  4. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  5. New owners take over downtown St. Petersburg's Hofbräuhaus


    ST. PETERSBURG — The downtown German beer-hall Hofbräuhaus St. Petersburg has been bought by a partnership led by former Checkers Drive-In Restaurants president Keith Sirois.

    The Hofbrauhaus, St. Petersburg, located in the former historic Tramor Cafeteria, St. Petersburg, is under new ownership.