Solar tree “planted” at courthouse

CHIPLEY – The newest addition to Chipley’s landscape can be seen on the grounds of the Washington County Courthouse by way of Gulf Power’s Solar Tree.

The tree is meant to commemorate the history of Chipley and Gulf Power and showcase the future of clean energy in Florida.

The “tree” itself is approximately 18 feet tall and 29 feet wide.  Gulf Power Spokesperson Kimberly Blair says each tree the company places inspires conversations about clean energy and offers an element of education. “[The solar trees] provide an opportunity for the public to see working solar energy technology,” she said. “Use each tree’s QR code to access information about the benefits of solar, Gulf Power’s solar trees and canopy projects.” 

There will also be memorial signage to celebrate the history of the company in Chipley, as well as a table with smart device charging ports.  

The tree will be trimmed with lights, the colors of which can be changed to reflect a holiday or even a beloved community event.  

The solar tree will generate about 5,400 kWh per year or enough energy to power 3.6 classrooms in a school. The energy generated by the tree will primarily serve the courthouse building, as a solar supplement to the building’s energy needs.  

Blair says Gulf Power and NextEra Energy are working toward the goal of making Florida a solar energy leader. “Drawing on the progress that Florida Power and Light has made toward installing 30 million solar panels by 2030 with its “30-by-30” plan, our goal is to develop multiple solar energy centers across Northwest Florida as we work together to position Florida as a leader in solar energy,” said Blair. 

Gulf Power says construction of the site is expected to be completed at the beginning of 2022.

When the tree is ‘unveiled’, instead of the traditional red ribbon being cut, a green ribbon will be untied. The green ribbon represents sustainability and is used at each welcoming of a tree in Northwest Florida.