Florida A&M University plans to build a 75-MW solar array and offer training, education opportunities
The Florida A&M University (FAMU) Board of Trustees approved a partnership with Duke Energy Florida to build a solar facility in Central Florida that will benefit students, faculty, utility customers and Floridians.
The Board approved a 25-year lease agreement with Duke Energy to provide a new, long-term revenue source at FAMU’s Brooksville Agricultural and Environmental Research Station (BAERS) for the University along with training and educational opportunities for students and members of the local community.
Duke Energy’s Rattler Solar Power Plant could add 74.9 MW of solar power to the grid at BAERS and help further the development and research of solar technologies, plant operations and workforce expansion.
“FAMU strives to be a good neighbor at all times, and like residents of Brooksville and Hernando County, we are concerned about the sustainability of the planet,” said Fred Gainous, Ed.D., who leads the FAMU Brooksville project. “This initiative allows us to use the natural energy source of the sun to power homes, instead of using resources that can be depleted.”
The solar facility would occupy between 600 and 800 acres of property and feature approximately 270,000 tracking solar panels.
“Making this land available to Duke Energy allows FAMU to accomplish two central objectives: generating revenue for student education and offering the county an alternative source of clean energy,” said FAMU President Larry Robinson, Ph.D. “We look forward to a long and healthy partnership with Duke Energy.”
Once operational, all the electricity created from the project will be fed onto the Duke Energy electric grid. The partnership would bring financial and academic benefits to FAMU with a new revenue source by means of lease-payments and through the creation of hands-on experiences for students researching and working with a fully-operational, utility-scale solar power plant connected to the grid.
“Duke Energy is pleased with the Board of Trustees’ decision,” said Tamara Waldmann, Duke Energy Florida Director of Distributed Generation Strategy. “This specific vote will allow Duke Energy to perform a critical next step, which is the evaluation of the FAMU property to determine if the conditions are indeed suitable for solar energy. Meanwhile, Duke Energy is engaging with Hernando County, and we will be engaging community leaders and residents in the coming weeks.”
This investment would also allow DEF the ability to continue exploring innovative, clean energy opportunities with various community partners and expand cost effective, flexible, and dependable utility owned solar for the benefit of all our customers.
“Equally important, it supports FAMU and their commitment to renewables, agriculture and sustainability. Building solar power plants in support of our customers and communities is part of our ongoing work to diversify our Company’s resources to offer dependable, emission-free, and smarter energy solutions that our customers value,” said Waldmann.
The agreement will include a due diligence period for site investigation and permitting prior to building a solar project at BAERS.
News item from Florida A&M University