Florida A&M Green-Lights Solar Partnership With Duke Energy

Larry Robinson, FAMU president (left), and Kelvin Lawson, FAMU board chair

The Florida A&M University (FAMU) board of trustees has approved a partnership with Duke Energy Florida (DEF) to build a solar facility in central Florida.

The board OK’d a 25-year lease agreement with DEF, whose Rattler Solar Power Plant could add 74.9 MW of renewable power to the grid.

The project would be located at FAMU’s Brooksville Agricultural and Environmental Research Station. The partnership is expected provide a long-term revenue source for the university through lease payments, along with training and educational opportunities for students and members of the local community.

“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,” says Fred Gainous, 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, to be built following a due diligence period for site investigation, will occupy 600-800 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,” says FAMU’s president, Larry Robinson.

Once operational, the facility could provide electricity for approximately 23,000 average-sized homes at peak production. All the electricity created from the project will be fed into DEF’s electric grid and delivered to customers in the area.

“Duke Energy is pleased with the board of trustees’ decision,” says Tamara Waldmann, DEF’s 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.”

Waldmann notes that the project is part of Duke Energy’s long-range plan to build or acquire 700 MW of solar energy in Florida through 2022.

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