CHIPLEY - Just a little more than 95 years ago, Chipley became the birthplace of Gulf Power when it bought Chipley Light and Power Company and became an actual lighting company. As a way to honor the history of Gulf Power’s birthplace they will be planting a “solar tree” on the northwest corner of the county courthouse.
The tree will commemorate the history and showcase the future of clean energy in Florida.
Gulf Power says the decrease of their carbon footprint and to provide clean energy is just a portion of their mission moving forward as part of NextEra Energy, which acquired the company in 2019.
“We are committed to increasing ways to harness zero emissions energy from the sun,” said Gulf Power Spokesperson Kimberly Blair. “This helps to keep costs down for customers and keep the region beautiful for years to come.”
The “tree” itself is expected to be approximately 18 feet tall and 29 feet wide. 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 is hopeful the tree will be planted by the end of the year or sooner.
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.