Renewable Energy –

What is a solar tree and why is there one in a Lynn Haven park now?

Nathan Cobb

December 16, 2021 The News Herald

The solar tree at Sharon J. Sheffield Park in Lynn Haven not only generates renewable energy for the local power grid, it also gives visitors a convenient way to charge their cellphones.

LYNN HAVEN — With the help of Gulf Power Company and Florida Power & Light, Lynn Haven now is the first city in Bay County to boast a solar tree. Located at Sharon J. Sheffield Park, the tree was installed within the past couple of weeks and generates renewable energy that is transferred onto the local power grid, according to Kimberly Blair, spokeswoman for Gulf Power. It also has outlets residents can use to charge their cellphones.

Blair noted that it creates enough energy every day to run about three and a half classrooms. “It’s just great innovative technology that’s harvesting the sun and creating zero-emission electricity,” she said. “We like to have (these solar trees) in the community so people can see … renewable energy being made up close. It’s kind of like an outdoor classroom.” Blair also said Gulf Power, which is merging with Florida Power & Light after the new year, has installed other solar trees across the Panhandle, including Pensacola, Destin and Fort Walton Beach. The one at Sheffield Park is the first in Bay County. Lynn Haven Mayor Jesse Nelson said the tree features outlets that give those visiting the park a convenient way to charge their cellphones and other devices. For Nelson, additions like the tree are important because it not only shows residents that officials care about improving local amenities, but that they care about the environment. “This will allow the moms with their children at the park to not have to worry about whether or not she can keep her cellphone charged,” Nelson said.

“We are concerned about our environment and what we can do to help mitigate any type of pollution (and) promote being green at the same time.” One such mom is Morgan Thomas of Lynn Haven, who was at the park Monday to let her three kids “run some energy out” after a day of class at Lynn Haven Elementary School. With the sounds of playing kids in the background, Thomas noted that she and her family visit the park practically every day. “I think it’s really neat,” she said of the solar tree. “I am in the real estate industry, (and) I’m constantly on my phone, so a (way) to charge my phone when my battery is going low works for me.”

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