Researchers at the University of Central Florida (UCF) and Ohio University (OU) recently completed in October 2020 a prospective, multi-scenario economic and environmental impact analysis report about if power purchase agreements (PPAs) were enabled in the State of Florida.
This report details a comprehensive economic and environmental impact study for legalizing power purchase agreements (PPAs) in the State of Florida, as conducted by researchers at the University of Central Florida (UCF) and Ohio University (OU), and as supported by Solar United Neighbors (SUN). As PPAs continue to grow and help deploy more solar energy across the United States (U.S.), SUN, a national nonprofit organization that helps people go solar, join together, and fight for their energy rights, has had a growing interest in better understanding the potential impacts that PPAs could bring to Florida. Subsequently, the research team conducted a thorough review of state PPA policies, profiled case studies for a municipality, a church, and a school district, and then calculated the prospective economic and environmental impacts of adding new solar energy to the grid if Florida were to enable this mechanism. For this latter phase, our research team focused on three prospective solar deployment scenarios: a “low” scenario (1.2 gigawatts (GW)), a “moderate” scenario (1.6 GW), and a “high” scenario (2.0 GW). Finally, we completed solar production calculations to better discern the amount of electricity that could be produced across the three scenarios, as well as the number of homes powered, greenhouse gases (GHGs) mitigated, and the equivalent number of Florida cars taken off of the road.
Our case studies illustrate the economic and environmental benefits from third-party PPAs for local organizations and non-profits. The individual cases we analyze vary in terms of potential solar capacity, from small (63 kilowatts (kW)), medium (2 megawatts (MW)), and large (18 MW) size projects, but nevertheless have a significant impact on reducing electricity costs for each organization. Further, organizations are able to avoid the large up-front costs of capital for a solar array that are not always available. Third-party PPAs would enable these organizations to more easily install on-site solar energy in order to further achieve environmental goals and missions.
Key findings from our employment impact calculations indicated that, in our low deployment scenario, solar via PPAs would support a total of 15,480 one-time construction phase jobs in Florida, and 138 annual operations and maintenance (O&M) phase jobs over the life of the systems. In our moderate scenario, we found that 20,639 construction phase jobs, and 184 O&M phase jobs, would be supported. Lastly, our high scenario showed that 25,799 construction phase jobs, and 230 O&M phase jobs, would be supported in Florida. We note that these figures represent conservative estimates given the inputs and assumptions that we used (i.e., Florida could see even larger employment impacts if additional in-state labor and materials were utilized for future projects; see Section 4 for additional details on our methods).
Moreover, we determined that these three deployment scenarios would bring sizeable economic impacts to the Sunshine State. First, we calculated a total of roughly $2.3B construction phase economic impacts to Florida in our low scenario, with an annual estimate of $15.9M of economic impacts over the life of the installations. In our moderate scenario, we calculated these construction phase impacts at nearly $3.1B, with the annual O&M phase impact of about $21.2M. Our highest deployment scenario increased these totals to $3.8B in the construction phase, and $26.5M annually in the O&M phase. Please refer to Appendix A for a more detailed set of results for our three projected deployment scenarios.
Finally, as a point of reference, our research team calculated that the equivalent of over 95,000 homes could be powered by PPA-enabled solar projects summing to 1.2 GW in our low scenario, compared to just over 127,000 homes in our moderate scenario, and over 159,000 homes in our high scenario (which is enough to power nearly all of the households in Florida’s second largest city, Miami). From a GHG mitigation perspective, we calculated that these three scenarios would be the equivalent of taking 88,554, 118,072, and 147,590 cars off of the road, respectively. Our report concludes with a recapitulation of key findings, as well as synthesizing takeaways of future solar energy deployment in the State of Florida if PPAs were legalized.
To read the full report, visit here.
Funding: Solar United Neighbors
- Kelly Stevens, Ph.D.
- Assistant Professor of Public Administration
- [email protected]