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Duke Energy Florida approved for next solar installations and monthly bill increase to pay for them

State regulators approved Duke Energy Florida's second round of solar projects Tuesday. The three new projects, which are expected to come online by March 2020, are part of Duke's effort to install 700 megawatts of solar power by 2022.

"These projects represent our commitment to the environment and more fuel diversity in the state," said Catherine Stempien, president of Duke's Florida arm, when the projects were announced this spring.

All three new projects are outside Tampa Bay. Lake Placid Solar Power Plant (45 megawatts) will be in Highlands County, according to Duke. It, along with Gilchrist County's Trenton Solar Power Plant (74.9 megawatts), is expected to come online in December. Volusia County's DeBary Solar Power Plant (74.5 megawatts) likely will come online in March 2020.

Duke customers will see a monthly bill increase of 59 cents per 1,000 kilowatt hours beginning in January 2020 to pay for the projects, as well as another 33-cent increase beginning in April 2020. The three solar projects will cost $252 million.

The utility, which serves much of Pinellas County and surrounding areas, is pursuing a solar push as part of a settlement with environmental groups and state regulators in 2017. In the same agreement, Duke committed to wiping out a remaining $150 million customers were due to pay for the never-built Levy County nuclear power project.

Contact Malena Carollo at or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo.