January 18, 2011

350 kW Rooftop Solar System Begins Construction Atop Florida Mall

The rooftop of a Publix-anchored shopping center in Gainesville, Fla., will be transformed into a solar farm populated with nearly 1,500 panels.

The 46,000 square-foot installation, atop The Exchange shopping center, will be among the five largest rooftop solar systems in Florida and one of the largest to use the regional utility's feed-in tariff renewable energy program. The 350 kW system is under construction and will be generating electricity by the close of the first quarter of 2011.

Several parties are playing integral roles within the project.

BrightPath Energy and The Real Thing Solar Energy Services developed and structured the project before selling their interest in the solar plant to Nautilus Solar. Nautilus Solar, the permanent owner of the system, will manage the construction process with Inman Solar. Inman Solar is designing, engineering and constructing the system. Stafford Properties, of Atlanta, Ga., owns the fully leased 88,000 square-foot Publix-anchored shopping center.

Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU), the local utility, will buy the power under its feed-in tariff program, begun in 2009 to foster renewable energy growth. Under the program, GRU will pay a fixed price for the power generated by the solar system over the next 20 years with the developers providing the financing for the system. This structure allows the solar facility to be built at no upfront cost to either GRU or Stafford Properties.

Stafford is receiving lease payments in exchange for hosting the system on its roof. At the same time, a more reflective and better insulated roof is being installed at The Exchange shopping center which should help lower electricity bills for tenants. The roof work is being provided by Superior Commercial Roofing.

In addition to saving money on electricity bills, Exchange tenants will soon occupy one of the most progressive and environmentally friendly commercial buildings in the state of Florida.

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