1. Business

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.
Published May 4, 2017

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.


  1. The main exhibit center at the Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa once stirred the imagination with dinosaurs and stars. Now, it's empty, but on the verge of rebirth as a movie studio.
    The County Commission has set aside $2 million for the project as the Film Commission studies the demand for it.
  2. Snack-focused delivery app GoPuff launched in Tampa in February. It serves the area surrounding the University of South Florida. GoPuff
    Flamin’ Hot Cheetos or Funyuns? GoPuff says it has the data for which snack Floridians love the most.
  3. "House Hunters," shot at a home in the Bayshore Beautiful area.  (Times | 2007) Tampa Tribune
    Whang, 57, was also a comedian and actress.
  4. The city is accepting applications for its Commercial Revitalization Program. The city has allocated $175,000 for the program this year.
  5. The Walmart supercenter at 990 Missouri Ave. faced fines in December for these storage containers in the parking lot. City officials are debating whether to make a short-term arrangement with the city two’s Largo stores this year so they can store their holiday inventory. City of Largo
    In the end, city commissioners say yes, with some reservations.
  6. More construction is on the way to St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, thanks to $19.75 million in Federal Aviation Administration grants to rehabilitate the airport’s runway. (Times file photo)
    The work is expected to be complete by spring 2021.
  7. Job applicants seek information about temporary positions available with the 2020 Census, during a job fair in Miami on Wednesday designed for people fifty years or older. LYNNE SLADKY  |  AP
    The state added 22,500 jobs in August.
  8. Homeowner Cheryl Murdoch, 59, explains the workings of the Philips Smart Mirror in her bathroom. Murdoch and her husband live in the Epperson neighborhood in Wesley Chapel, home of the Crystal Lagoon, where some residents are piloting new health technologies inside their homes. SCOTT KEELER  |   Times
    In Pasco’s Crystal Lagoon community, AdventHealth and Metro Development Group are testing in-home technology aimed at keeping people away from the hospital.
  9. A company called Flock Safety is selling automatic license plate readers to neighborhood associations to cut down on crime, and Tampa neighborhood Paddock Oaks is one of their customers. Pictured is a Flock camera on Paddock Oaks Dr. | [Luis Santana | Times] LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    Atlanta-based Flock Safety has provided 14 area communities with high-speed, high-definition cameras for surveillance.
  10. An American Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft approaches Miami International Airport for landing in March. Bloomberg
    The 60-year-old veteran airline employee told investigators he was upset that union contract negotiations had stalled.