Sparkleberry: Escambia County Approves FPL Molino Solar Farm, The Third In North Escambia

August 4, 2022

The Escambia County Development Review Committee on Wednesday sign off on a third Florida Power & Light solar farm in North Escambia on hundreds of acres in Molino.

The Sparkleberry Solar Energy Center is planned for 553 acres south of the end of Pilgrim Trail. According to FPL, over 200,000 solar panels will generate nearly 75 megawatts — enough energy to power 15,000 homes. FPL must still obtain construction permits, and the development order remains valid for at least 18 months for them to do that.

No water or sewer facilities are required, and on-site stormwater retention areas will be constructed to accommodate the semi-impervious and impervious cover.

According to the development order, no protected trees will be removed, and FPL will not be required to plant any trees in mitigation.

The Molino solar farm is roughly the same size as two others in North Escambia.

The 300,000 solar panels at the Cotton Creek Solar Energy Center on Bogia Road near McDavid have been in operation since the first of the year, producing up to about 75 megawatts.

The First City Solar Energy Center, the second FPL solar site to be built in North Escambia,  off Holland, Cox and Roach roads in McDavid is not yet operational. It also has a planned output of 75 megawatts. graphic showing the proposed location of the Sparkleberry Solar Energy Center in Molino, click to enlarge.


39 Responses to “Sparkleberry: Escambia County Approves FPL Molino Solar Farm, The Third In North Escambia”

  1. David Huie Green on August 7th, 2022 12:19 am

    “One acre of trees offsets the carbon emissions
    Of 2.7 gas powered cars.”

    And when those trees die and rot or are burned, all the carbon dioxide they absorbed will be released and all toxygen they released will be consumed.

  2. realist on August 6th, 2022 7:02 pm

    So they clearcut over 500 acres to power 15k homes. That does not include apartment complexes. How many houses if we all own electric vehicles?
    Also, fun fact, 40% of oil is used on products OTHER THAN FUEL! Plastics, for example, and makeup.
    Bottom line- we will always need oil. Always- and we have over a 400 year supply in America.

  3. Jml on August 6th, 2022 11:57 am

    One acre of trees offsets the carbon emmisions
    Of 2.7 gas powered cars. This tract if not clearcut
    Would offset almost emissions of almost 1500 cars.
    Not to mention the O2 that would be generated.

  4. Robert Bruner on August 6th, 2022 5:14 am

    Republicans don’t care about polluted rivers and streams but now they claim that they are birds lovers. Their house is full of made in China products but now they are anti China manufacturing. You have to live by the words you say or your words mean nothing.

  5. P'cola on August 5th, 2022 10:36 pm

    FPL should have just stuck with coal and pumped the CO, CO2, NO, etc. into the Jay Oil Field for tertiary recovery. Win-win-win.

  6. Lee on August 5th, 2022 2:27 pm

    We are just at the tip of the iceberg with solar power. It will take time and many improvements will be made along the way. Prices will eventually become competitive as demand increases. One day gas fueled cars will be as scarce as horses on Palafox.

  7. Lee on August 5th, 2022 1:19 pm

    For those concerned about FPL prices, maybe take a look at what they are donating to politicians. It’s all online. Essentially, customers are helping line the pockets of candidates near and dear to FPL.

  8. Kv on August 5th, 2022 12:25 pm

    Mary, thanks for sticking to some facts and numbers, a lot of opinions and mistruths spreading in these parts. According to your figures about 1% of our county’s land would be required to allow for electricity production for our homes. That sounds fair to me. Even though if we truly cared about the issue our per capita electricity usage could easily be cut in half by intelligent architects, better insulation, and more efficient appliances, etc, I still believe that 1% sounds like a fair number.

  9. Mike on August 5th, 2022 11:59 am

    FWIW, a 1000 megawatt nuclear plant would require 640 acres.

  10. Concerned Voter on August 5th, 2022 10:57 am

    @ Robert Bruner

    Though I think FOX News provides many news articles other mainstream media won’t address, I am interested in several news outlets for balance and find it interesting the bias that is no longer hidden by many. That said, I’ve never seen an article on CNN, ABC or MSNBC that addresses the environmental and civil rights impact that mining the raw materials; indium, gallium, selenium, cadmium, and tellurium has. I really do not remember seeing a specific news story on FOX that addresses this either for that matter. Don’t blame everything you don’t agree with on FOX.

    There are however, several websites you can search that will provide you with the information to form your own educated opinion on this subject. Be discerning and look for the truth. Don’t just be a sheep. Yes, I own a cellular phone and other electronic devices. All of us do in today’s world. That does not mean I will drink the KoolAid it sounds like many have here, and fall over because I’m told by large corporations and big government this is now good for me and buy deeper and deeper into the wrong that is there. Do your own research. Up to 99% of these materials are being produced in China, not by environmental friendly process and much by Uyghur slaves. Honestly, if it’s the next greatest thing, why aren’t we mining and producing it here? You know why.

    By the same method you can research the environmental impact processing those mined materials cause. Heating to some 14,000 degrees to separate the metals and produce the silicones. Now that doesn’t cause a large carbon footprint! Or the end life deterioration in 15-20 years, as these same raw materials leach back into the land and water supply. Drink up!

    Get off the KoolAid and think for yourselves. Many of our real social problems today are because people listen to those that would have an agenda for them to buy into.

  11. Robert Bruner on August 5th, 2022 4:24 am

    You can tell by the comments the people who only get their “facts” from one source. Hence, they are not facts but opinions. Opinions about China, solar, wind etc don’t mean anything unless you change the channel from Fox News and try to educate yourself a little more.

  12. David Huie Green on August 5th, 2022 3:25 am

    “You might need to do some research and homework ! California solar power plants are killing bird’s!”

    According to a report in 2016,
    a type of solar power plant that concentrates sunlight in California was accidentally killing up to 6,000 birds every year, with staff reporting that the birds keep flying into its concentrated beams of sunlight, and spontaneously bursting into flames.

    As I mentioned, solar panels do not concentrate sunlight and make death rays for birds. (I DO wonder if anybody ate the daily food from Heaven where they did, though.) It is comparing apples to toasted oranges.

    Other than that you sometimes have birds which confuse solar panels for the windows they like to fly into.

    Do a little research

    David for solar cooking

  13. David Huie Green on August 5th, 2022 3:00 am

    ” how do you justify the slave labor used in China and Afghanistan to mine the heavy metals to produce them and for EV battery materials as well?”

    I don’t. They should abandon slavery. (It would also improve productivity. Slaves, being unhappy, make poor workers.)

    “Do you promote this product then and turn a blind eye to the way it is produced, and the harm to thousands of human lives and devastation to natural landscapes as the earth is cleared and strip mined?”

    Well, I don’t conquer the world to enslave the bad guys to force them to behave. Strip mines are safer than mines with thousands of tons of loose rock overhead. Landscapes can be restored; dead can’t. Obviously better would be better materials, which they are always working on while settling with imperfect improvements in the meantime

    “What hypocrisy it is to try and make us believe this is better than American labor getting paid good wages to produce on and offshore oil and gas safely and in an environmentally responsible manner”

    Short memory? Their production is proven to be other than 100% safe, Reaching for reasons. Not just blowouts, explosions, cave-ins climate change is expensive and kills. Pretending the goal is only helping others make big bucks. Either or. The uses of petroleum and natural gas do not go away. That does not do away with the benefits of solar.

    “you gloss over the end life of the aged panels”

    Yep. I don’t assume every problem is unsolvable, especially 40 years from now and worked on by millions of motivated people. The materials in solar panels coming offline each year could be worth an estimated $2 billion by 2050. That sounds like motivation.

    David for nuclear

  14. Mary on August 4th, 2022 11:51 pm

    Let me see, they need 553 acres to provide power to 15,000 homes. There are approximately 142,456 homes in Escambia County. So, theoretically, to provide energy to all homes in Escambia County by solar panel fields, they will need roughly 5,252 acres of solar panels. How do you think FPL will pay for these solar fields? Can you say rate hike. It will be years before we will be afforded lower bills as a result. And by that time, panels will need to be replaced.

  15. Wayne on August 4th, 2022 9:29 pm

    Deny: And at China who supposedly made the panels but not ourselves who keep buying Chinese-made items at Walmart.
    We have to buy what is sold, Walmart or any other store and all they sell is from China because there’s nothing made in U.S.A anymore

  16. Wut? on August 4th, 2022 7:41 pm

    @Concerned Citizen

    Do you own a computer, cell phone, tablet?

    Give them up if you are so concerned.

  17. Hard Working Citizen! on August 4th, 2022 7:25 pm

    My main concern is that everyone In this free world has to learn how to manage money and save in order to be successful or even just to maintain. Rather it be a business or personal finance. So why is it a company is allowed to just come in and spend money they don’t have. Oh wait that’s right I didn’t say that right money we don’t have. There spending millions and coming up on billions of dollars on solar and burning power lines etc etc etc. I get it. These changes need to happen in order to protect the environment but to me this is excessive spending. This company needs to be held accountable for there irresponsible spending.

  18. Free thinker on August 4th, 2022 7:17 pm

    I’m a republican and able to think independently without Fox News talking points. I’m grateful that FPL is investing in solar that will someday pay off with lower bills and cleaner air.

  19. just wondering on August 4th, 2022 7:08 pm

    Regarding. DHG
    You might need to do some research and homework ! California solar power plants are killing bird’s!

  20. Concerned Voter on August 4th, 2022 5:49 pm

    @ David Huie Green

    Your argument smooths right over some concerns. But if you are arguing FOR solar panels, how do you justify the slave labor used in China and Afghanistan to mine the heavy metals to produce them and for EV battery materials as well? Do you promote this product then and turn a blind eye to the way it is produced, and the harm to thousands of human lives and devastation to natural landscapes as the earth is cleared and strip mined? I note that we do not allow such labor or environmental practices here in the USA but now our policy is to push such a style energy that takes advantage of that.

    What hypocrisy it is to try and make us believe this is better than American labor getting paid good wages to produce on and offshore oil and gas safely and in an environmentally responsible manner. We have the natural resources here in natural gas alone to be independently sustainable longer than anyone can imagine with more well pockets being found and old wells that were thought depleted now being found productive again.

    We use fossil fuels for so many plastics, chemicals, pharmaceutical and such that we will always have a demand. Fossil fuels for electricity is only one aspect of it.

    As well, you gloss over the end life of the aged panels and the toxic hazards produced by the heavy metals as they deteriorate in our land fills, leaching more toxins into our lands and waters.

    Many of us are not sold on this whole idea. They do not provide a cheaper form of energy to our homes. FPL has already come in and we’ve all seen the increase in our bills. Solar panels are not renewable energy as the heavy metals used in their making are resources that are finite and much rarer that fossil fuels. I don’t think they make sense for a country looking to move toward clean, environmentally friendly (?) energy from their beginning to their end.

  21. David Huie Green on August 4th, 2022 4:13 pm

    “what are they going to do with all of those dead birds that get smoked from flying over the farm” and a few others

    There are legitimate concerns and then there are silly ones like this. Solar panels don’t concentrate sunlight at all, most definitely not into bird death rays.

    Yes, solar only works when Sol, the sun, shines. It can be and is stored for use on demand and main demand is during daytime anyway.

    Yes, solar panels lose efficiency over decades and are replaced with newer, more efficient ones. The old ones are usually still functional and likely to find second life usages. If not, recycling is doable. Much is instantly available for reuse. The panels themselves should make interesting roofing materials.

    Yes, China produces more photovoltaic power panels than anyone else and uses more, about three times as much usage as the USA. They also provide storage we developed but didn’t bother to manufacture. That’s on us and our gut opposition to newfangled things. That is not a reason to reject the product if it is useful and economical. More reasonable would be to compete to outdo them and develop better ways.

    No, solar power does not release oxygen, but it avoids oxygen being consumed and possible excessive heating leading to wildfires using up oxygen. Scientists estimate that 50-80% of the oxygen production on Earth comes from the ocean. and solar won’t make a dent in the rest.

    Nuclear would still be better but that isn’t being discussed here now.

    David for better

  22. Jim on August 4th, 2022 2:35 pm

    @ Paul:
    At least coal and hydro plants work 100% of the time unlike solar that works 50% of the time at best. No sun at night so no power. As for my gas truck, I will take it any time over the $93,000 Ford lightning that was recently tested pulling a medium size camper, it made it 90 miles on a full charge, I know my gas powered truck will make it a lot further than that. I’m not against solar, just being realistic, we have a lot more upgrades and advances that have to be made before we can get away from oil. Don’t forget about all the strip mining being done to get the metal for the batteries for all these electric vehicles.

  23. Concerned Voter on August 4th, 2022 2:34 pm

    For you guys that want to think solar energy is a good thing, do your research. If you think the Chinese will help improve the earth’ environment, or care about any one’s equality, you should think again

    What is “green” or socially acceptable about the way the heavy metals being used are mined. If it’s so good why don’t US companies do it in the US? You know why but won’t admit it. When there is proof that the ambient air temperatures in the areas of solar farms is increased and that oxygen emitting trees are depleted for the building of these farms and those trees aren’t replanted nearby, there are certainly negative effects.

    So we get more expensive electricity now from FPL because of this. Just wait till they want to dig pits in your area to dispose of the deteriorating solar cells in not so many years and the harm that is caused to the already marginalized water table following.

    I work in the energy industry so I am not a “tree hugger” though I love my wildlife and the nature around me. I have first hand experience with the steps being taken to produce our natural resources in a clean and responsible manner. Here in the USA by Americans.

    Keep your heads in the sand if you want to, or follow your leader with your shiny rings through your noses if you want to. We’ll all pay the price.

    Nuff said.

  24. Sherrie on August 4th, 2022 2:15 pm

    FPL has carte blanche in Florida. The Florida Power & Light’s parent company have given big money to the Republican Governors Association and pay very well to play. Get ready for another hike on your energy bill.

  25. just wondering on August 4th, 2022 2:08 pm

    How does this track of land work for a solar farm? There is no power line on or near the track ! And what are they going to do with all of those dead birds that get smoked from flying over the farm ? Smell a rat, or those dead birds !

  26. Denny on August 4th, 2022 1:07 pm

    Everybody’s mad at FPL for buying the land but not at the farmer who sold it. And at environmental effects in making the solar materials, but not at coal-powered Crist plant that polluted our family’s lungs for generations. And at China who supposedly made the panels but not ourselves who keep buying Chinese-made items at Walmart.

  27. Lee on August 4th, 2022 11:21 am

    If not for creativity and the denying the closeminded naysayers, we wouldn’t have most of the things we’ve come to think of as necessary. Cars, planes, tv, phones, even cheeseburgers were all dismissed as fads, unnecessary, unsafe, etc., at their inception. It is foolish to expect things will always stay the same. Why wouldn’t we want them to???

  28. Paul on August 4th, 2022 11:01 am

    It’s funny how some people are all about the environment when it fits there politics. Had you rather have coal fired electric plants or dam up more rivers that destroy nature on vast levels. Or quiet solar panels on otherwise useless land that had been carefully researched. Just get in your gas burning cars and drive back in time.Because the future will come no matter. Stop watching TV and listening to info wars and enjoy this great country we are blessed to live in. Trust educated science Hug your kids. Read don’t listen. ☮️ ❤️

  29. Hint on August 4th, 2022 10:33 am

    They should be required to plant trees to restore the land. Farmers in that area have restrictions to follow concerning aerial spraying, & land use. Just because large companies own the property, they should not be allowed to do what they want with it. The land usage rules should apply to that area, they are in. And I was a previous land owner.

  30. Kane on August 4th, 2022 9:57 am

    So many negative comments about solar one might think a few are on the F(lorida)P(eople)L(ose) payroll.

    First off if you’re just now worried that things are made in China you’re 20 years to late. Everything is made in China don’t believe look at the things in your home 95% of those are made in China including the literal walls of your home. We don’t make anything here anymore it’s really one of our nations biggest issues we have no manufacturing we depend heavily on overseas labor.

    Ozone layer?? What’s that? You mean that thing that people from before 1970 made a whole in using cfc’s. Don’t worry though it’s actually healed itself because we have a Dyson sphere (not the vacuum) of garbage circling our planet giving the ozone layer a much-needed rest. (well at least we helped make that yay)

    You’re worried about slave and child labor now but not when it comes to saving 20.00 dollars on a pair of shoes at walmart right?

  31. Le on August 4th, 2022 9:51 am

    Save trees, eat beaver. Don’t cut the trees down

  32. SueB on August 4th, 2022 9:43 am

    Agree with Concerned Voter. FPL is paying off a lot of people in Escambia County. FPL will raise rates.

  33. TB on August 4th, 2022 9:40 am

    It’s funny, people scream “Renewables” until power companies start implementing “Renewables”
    Then people vote in Politicians that run on “Renewable platforms” then wonder why “Renewables” show up in their backyards.
    Politicians demand “Renewables” then heavily fine companies for windmills killing birds.
    People are crazy…

  34. Obie 1 on August 4th, 2022 9:30 am

    Please LORD NO!!! FPL is destroying our beautiful wooded areas and our way of life, normal life. OUR roads…everything! Go look up in McDavid on Bogia road and Roach road! Destroying our area!!!

    Whoever approved of these projects needs to shot in the head!

  35. Concerned Voter on August 4th, 2022 8:56 am

    When will the truth be told about these solar panel farms and the actual damage to the environment that they do?

    From the very start of their production, and out of our sight, the destruction of great parcels of land due to the strip mining of heavy metals by slave and child labor in China and Afghanistan, by mainly Chinese owned companies, we give into these costly replacements of conventional energy sources. The clearing of large oxygen producing woodlands and the displacement of natural wildlife for the construction of the solar farms and the general ambient temperature rise in the areas around the sunlight reflecting panels is counter to the supposed and advertised goals of the lefty “environmentalists” that support and push this type of energy source. Then at the end of the 15-20 year life of these panels, the disposal that is already now being seen in California and other states as a health hazard as the deteriorating heavy metals used in the panels leach toxins back into the ground waters.

    We are purchasing these panels from Chinese corporations and it is wrong! There are no real benefits to America or anyone by them. We were energy independent with fossil fuels and we do not need these alternative energy sources that do so much hidden damage. When will we learn? When will we say NO! What a shame! I care, and I vote.

  36. Whatsnext on August 4th, 2022 8:46 am

    So, how much is our power bills coming down? We need more affordable housing and stores up here, not solar farms. These panels are made with non recycled material just like the batteries in electric cars. Trees eat up carbon dioxide so there goes the ozone. Thanks

  37. TEM on August 4th, 2022 8:33 am

    Reckon our Rates are Increasing Daily is to pay for there Solar Farms ?

  38. Wm. Parker on August 4th, 2022 6:57 am

    I think we need to ask, “Where are the solar panels manufactured? ” If it is in China then all we are doing as a nation is “Making China Great Again”.

  39. dreamboat annie on August 4th, 2022 4:45 am

    This is so so so wrong ..
    ALL OF IT.

    supertramp : crime of the century

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