Massive FPL Solar Farm May Spark NFMIP Growth – Proposed Site Could Include Five Solar Farms
By JAMIE WACHTER firstname.lastname@example.org / May 11, 2023
Florida Power & Light’s next solar farm in Columbia County may provide more than just electricity. The Price Creek Solar Energy Center may also energize growth at the North Florida Mega Industrial park. FPL’s solar farm, located just south of the industrial park off of State Road 100, will help attract businesses to the site, Jennifer Daniels, the county’s economic development specialist told the Economic Development Advisory Board at its meeting Wednesday.
“Any major business coming in will see that and instantly think green energy,” Daniels said of the solar plant, which will be less building manufacturer that is a two-part project that would have a manufacturing facility as well as locations to build on. than 1/4 mile south of NFMIP. “That’s kind of the catch phrase of the day. A lot of these larger companies are wanting to come in and power their entire operation off solar or green energy.”
An FPL spokesperson did not respond to multiple attempts for comment on the project Wednesday.
What those businesses will see from FPL’s site near the industrial park will be one 74.5MW solar center, to start.
But Daniels said the plans for the near 3, 600 acres that FPL acquired in the area is for up to five independent solar farms each capable of producing 74.5MW of energy. “This is definitely a good thing for us,” Daniels said.
FPL is hosting an open house about the project at Florida Gateway College’s Wilson S. Rivers Library on May 18 from 5-7 p.m. Daniels said FPL wants to move quickly on the first phase of the project with groundbreaking likely around January.
FPL currently has two 74.5MW solar plants along Interstate 10 in Columbia and Suwannee counties, the Sunshine Gateway Solar Energy Center and the Echo River Solar Energy Center.
Water on Tap for Mega Site
By JAMIE WACHTER email@example.com / December 15, 2021
Let it flow, let it flow, let it flow. The Suwannee River Water Management District’s governing board unanimously approved a water use permit request by Columbia County for the North Florida Mega Industrial Park during its meeting Tuesday morning.
The permit will allow the county to draw up to 2.16 million gallons of water a day from two 18-inch wells to cover the demand of at least three industrial users within the 2,622-acre service area of the industrial park.
“It’s a pivotal moment for Columbia County in terms of ensuring our future growth and our ability to provide economic development and job opportunities for all of our citizens of the region, not just Columbia County but all the surrounding counties,” County Manager David Kraus said during the meeting.
“It is critical and pivotal for our growth and sustaining our families for the future.” Currently, the park has one confirmed tenant after the Columbia County Board of County Commissioners approved an economic development deal last month with Project Wave. That tenant, which is purchasing up to 30 acres from Weyerhaeuser, will have a capital investment between $12 million and $14 million and is expected to bring 50-100 new jobs to the county.
According to the county’s initial permit request filed in January — it was later withdrawn before resubmitted in April — industrial users at the park were described as a plastic recycling manufacturer and a personal protective equipment manufacturer. Kraus said last week that the PPE provider is no longer a possible tenant at the mega site. In addition to Project Wave, he said the county is still working on two to three other projects that are “strong prospects.”
A strong component to the county’s request for the water use was its plans to offset the effects of the proposed groundwater withdrawals. That plan includes a reclamation facility at the industrial park to treat wastewater from the site for reuse as a lower-quality water source or for aquifer recharge as well as drainage wells on Lake Harris on the western side of the county.
“A new use has to offset its entire impact,” said Warren Zwanka, the director of the district’s Division of Resource Management, when asked by the board about minimum flows and levels moving forward. “By our numbers, the supplemental recharge that you get at the Lake Harris recharge wells…more than offset the proposed withdrawals.”
Kraus said that aspect was something the county takes seriously.
“We’re actively committed to recharge,” he said. “We think that’s a very important aspect and want to continue working with the district on recharge projects as we move forward.”
Groundbreaking Begins on New Rail Spur Segment at North Florida Mega Industrial Park
Exciting economic development progress for the North Central Florida region! The groundbreaking for the new rail spur connecting rail spur connecting into NFMIP was held December 12, 2019. Pictured l to r: Senior Manager Planning, Greg Galpin – Weyerhaeuser ; Charles “Hank” Hankerson, Vice President Operations – RailUSA, LLC; Ron Williams, Chair – Columbia County Commission; Crystal Stiles, Director of Economic Development – Florida Power & Light Company (FPL); Florida House of Representatives Chuck Brannan, District 10; Dr. Jerry Parrish, Chief Economist – Florida Chamber Foundation ; and Carl Warren, Director of Ports & International and Industrial Development – CSX .
Major Milestone Achieved at Economic Development Catalyst Site in Columbia County
LAKE CITY, Fla. (December 12, 2019) — Columbia County leaders, along with their public and private partners, today broke ground and hammered in golden spikes to start construction of a rail spur segment at the 2,600-acre North Florida Mega Industrial Park (NFMIP). Once complete in early 2020, the new rail spur will connect the shovel-ready Mega Site to Class III railroad, Florida Gulf & Atlantic Railway (FGA) via a CSX interchange. NFMIP is an Approved U.S. Opportunity Zone with a mainline connecting Jacksonville to New Orleans.
Dozens of business and economic development leaders, site selectors and elected officials were on hand to witness the first groundbreaking at the catalyst site — which is positioned to accommodate a large company or manufacturer looking to build or expand in the North Florida region. Attendees included representatives from FGA, Rail USA, Florida Power & Light Company, Florida Chamber of Commerce, CSX, Florida Department of Transportation, The City of Lake City, Moore Bass Consulting, Lake City Columbia County Chamber of Commerce and Columbia County Board of Commissioners.
“Columbia County would like to thank the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Weyerhaeuser and all of our partners who have contributed countless hours and tremendous efforts into making this vision a reality. This rail spur is the final piece of infrastructure needed to complete this catalyst site, making the North Florida Mega Industrial Park ready for development,” said Commissioner Tim Murphy, Chairman of the Economic Development Advisory Board.
CSX certified the site for the County, and Rail USA and the County are now constructing the rail spur that will run across Highway 90 directly into NFMIP.
“As the County’s newest partner, we are pleased to move this project forward and build on the work that has already been done by CSX. Once we complete the construction of the short-line rail, the North Florida Mega Industrial Park will truly be a multi-modal site that attracts larger rail-served industrial end-users. We want to congratulate Columbia County for achieving this major milestone in the development of the North Florida Mega Industrial Park as a catalyst for economic development,” said Charles “Hank” Hankerson, Vice President of Operations for Rail USA.
The single-owner supersite is located in Lake City, near the Florida/Georgia border. The Park is certified as a McCallum Sweeney Mega Industrial Park and a CSX Select Site. The Park has been approved for eight million square feet of industrial development and 100,000 square feet of commercial and retail development. It has access to a regional labor force of more than 1.2 million within a 60-mile radius.
“The groundbreaking of this rail spur is another positive step to further develop this regional economy, which will help Florida reach the Florida 2030 goal of becoming the 10th largest economy in the world,” said Dr. Jerry Parrish, Chief Economist for the Florida Chamber Foundation. “Not only will this rail spur help attract companies to the area, but more goods and freight from across Florida will also be transported through Lake City. This is a win for job creation in Columbia County, and a win for Florida’s economic development.”
Weyerhaeuser is one of the largest landowners in the Southeast and provided the land for the NFMIP.
“The Weyerhaeuser team is pleased to celebrate this milestone with Columbia County and all of the organizations that have made today possible,“ said Greg Galpin, Senior Planning Manager at Weyerhaeuser. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with Columbia County to bring industrial development to this site and are expecting many more groundbreakings at the North Florida Mega Industrial Park in the future.”
Crystal Stiles, senior director of economic development at FPL, said the company is proud to be the energy provider and partner for the shovel-ready site.
“We all know how important it is that a site is ready with utilities – water, sewer and power. And having the rail system right there makes it even more attractive. This makes it easier for prospective businesses to envision themselves here,” said Stiles. “In addition to providing reliable and affordable energy, we are committed to working with companies to ensure they find their next home base here. We look forward to continuing our partnership as we all work toward the common goal of economic prosperity for the region and state.”
ABOUT NORTH FLORIDA MEGA INDUSTRIAL PARK
North Florida Mega Industrial Park (NFMIP) is a 2,622-acre mega-site with water, wastewater, electric, natural gas and telecommunications. It is zoned for eight million square feet of industrial, manufacturing and logistics development, plus 100,000 square feet of commercial/retail use. NFMIP is an approved U.S. Opportunity Zone situated in Lake City, Columbia County, featuring three miles of prime frontage on U.S. Highway 90, with Interstates 75 and 10 within 15 minutes. This mega-site is served by Class III railroad, Florida Gulf & Atlantic Railroad via a CSX interchange, providing preferred accessibility to ports, airports and rail lines.