By: Noelani Mathews | WCTV Eyewitness News
December 14, 2017
SUWANNEE COUNTY, Fla. (WCTV) -- Suwannee County is now home to a 9-megawatt solar power plant.
Duke Energy held a ribbon cutting Thursday for the 70-acre site.
"Our customers told us they wanted cleaner, more reliable energy and that's what we're doing," says Harry Sideris, Duke Energy Florida President. "We're building a smarter energy future, and listening to our customers. Solar is a big part of that."
He says the 44,000 solar panels are enough to power 1,700 homes.
The project is a lot to be proud of for the company and the community.
"It lets me know the company really cares about the area," says Garry Glee, a former Dukes Energy employee.
Glee worked at the site in the fifties, when it was a much different plant producing power from natural gas.
"We were on the chopping block with this plant at one time and we proved to them that we could run this plant efficiently and safely," says Glee.
Duke Energy decided to keep the land and replace the older plant with a next generation power source.
"Just being able to continue honoring the past and looking to the future really makes a big deal for me," says Sideris.
"They didn't just close it down and close the doors on this area, they decided to invest and put something here for future generations so we're proud of it," says Glee.
Duke Energy says construction on its next site near Jasper starts in 2018. However, this plant will be much larger. Duke Energy says it will sit on 550 acres and have 300,000 solar panels.