Duke Energy Florida has received approval to build, own and operate a 5-MW solar facility that will serve the Reedy Creek Improvement District near Orlando.

The Reedy Creek Improvement District Board of Supervisors voted to accept a 15-year power-purchase agreement with Duke Energy Florida Solar Solutions LLC, a subsidiary of Duke Energy Florida, to purchase solar energy from the facility.

Once constructed, all of the energy from the facility will be sold to the district to meet its energy needs.

"Our new solar facility agreement is another example of how we're always looking at innovative ways to conserve our natural resources," said Bill Warren, administrator for Reedy Creek Improvement District, which provides governmental services, including utility systems. "The use of solar energy builds on our commitment to protect the environment and is another step toward realizing our long-term sustainability goals."

The facility will occupy approximately 20 acres near World Drive and Epcot Center Drive at Walt Disney World Resort.

Construction is expected to begin mid-summer with the facility to be in service by year end.

The facility's 48,000 solar panels will be arranged in the shape of a Disney-inspired design.

"We are committed to working with customers to expand their use of renewable energy," said Alex Glenn, president, Duke Energy Florida. "This opportunity to serve the Reedy Creek Improvement District is another example of how we are meeting our customers' interests in renewable energy, while bringing more solar choices to Florida."

The solar facility for the Reedy Creek Improvement District is equivalent to about 1,000 typical residential solar rooftop systems.

Duke Energy Florida has taken several steps to advance solar technology in its service area.

In April, the company announced plans to build up to 500 megawatts of solar by 2024 as part of a 10-year plan.

It also has funded more than $8 million in solar photovoltaic system installations at approximately 50 K-12 schools and universities in Florida to generate electricity and help foster renewable energy education.