Only on Channel 9: An exclusive look at Central Florida’s first solar-powered toll plaza

ORLANDO, Fla. — For the first time, the Central Florida Expressway Authority has a toll plaza that’s running on solar power.

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Channel 9 Traffic Anchor Alexa Lorenzo was invited for a closer look at the new solar field.

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“We’re super excited about it,’ CFX Communications Director Brian Hutchings said. “It generates a nice fair amount of energy.”

The array consists of 1,800 panels covering nearly two acres. The panels are now operational and are powering the State Road 408 Hiawassee toll plaza and data center.

Hutchings says they’re calling the project a sustainability success.

“Even though we are a transportation, road building agency, we want to do it as environmentally sound and green as we possibly can,” Hutchings said. “Living in the ‘Sunshine State,’ what better way to do it than solar?”

Hutchings says the Hiawassee toll plaza is just the beginning of a larger plan to one day convert all their plazas to solar energy.

“Our plan is to convert a plaza each year to solar,” Hutchings said.”

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The plan is to start with the 12 main toll plazas throughout the 125-mile expressway system. After that, the Independence Mainline plaza.

Hutchings says each one will be unique.

“This isn’t cookie cutter by any means,” Hutchings said.

Depending on space, some panels may be wall-mounted. Others could be made to float in retention ponds.

CFX says it’s a step in the right direction, helping them gain experience with alternative energy solutions, and getting them ready for the future of more electric cars and autonomous vehicles.

“It’s an exciting time to be in transportation,’ Hutchings said. “We take it seriously, and we really want to be at the forefront of innovative solutions of being green.”

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The toll plaza is equipped with duplicate systems it can draw from and backup sources for electricity during cloudy days and night-time hours.

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