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Duke Energy’s plan to build a solar-energy complex in DeBary is moving ahead, and city officials are still interested in hearing from people who live close to the project site.

The power company earlier this year announced its intention to develop a solar facility on approximately 300 acres on the west side of Don Smith Boulevard and north of West Highbanks Road, and the idea is still in the comment and design phase.

The DeBary City Council will host a workshop and public-information meeting on the solar farm at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5, at City Hall, 16 Colomba Road.

If all goes well, “Construction will begin about the third quarter of 2019,” Duke Energy spokeswoman Ana Gibbs said. “An in-service date would be about the first quarter of 2020.”

The proposed DeBary solar-energy facility will consist of some 300,000 silicon photovoltaic panels placed on racks facing southward and tilted at a 20-degree angle to catch the sun’s rays and convert them into electricity.

The project is part of Duke Energy’s $1 billion investment in clean, renewable solar energy in Florida, an outlay that envisions the creation of 10 new solar arrays in the Sunshine State.

When it goes into operation, the DeBary facility will produce an estimated 74.5 million watts of electricity per day — enough to meet the needs of more than 20,000 average homes.

The facility will cost between $70 million and $100 million, Gibbs said, and would have an estimated operational life of 30 years.

Even though a firm construction start date has not been announced, planners are already looking forward to the end of the DeBary solar array’s useful life. DeBary Growth Management Director Matt Boerger says the request for the City Council’s approval includes steps for decommissioning the facility.

“We want to make sure when it is decommissioned, that it doesn’t just sit there and become a dilapidated eyesore,” Boerger said in a telephone interview.

Duke — or whoever owns the property in 30 years or so — would be responsible for making the land useful, perhaps hauling away the solar panels and applying technology not now available.

DeBary’s Development Review Committee will consider the project Dec. 18.

Boerger could not say when the City Council may get the ordinance permitting the solar facility.


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