COLLABORATION

Florida A&M University partners with Duke Energy on Florida solar plant

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Digital Energy Futures, as the initiative is called, plan to ultimately develop models for tracking and predicting peak electricity demand and broader consumption.

Florida A&M University (FAMU) is teaming up with Duke Energy Florida to build a solar energy plant covering between 600 and 800 acres of property, and consisting of about 270,000 photovoltaic panels.

FAMU’s Board of Trustees approved the partnership on Wednesday, with hopes the 25-year lease agreement will be an all-round benefit to the university, its students, and wider society.

“FAMU strives to be a good neighbour at all times, and like residents of Brooksville and Hernando County, we are concerned about the sustainability of the planet,” lead of the FAMU Brooksville project, Fred Gainous, said in a statement.

“This initiative allows us to use the natural energy source of the sun to power homes, instead of using resources that can be depleted.”

Not only will Duke Energy’s Rattler Solar Power Plant provide renewable energy to the grid, faculty also believe it will help further the development and research of solar technologies.

The facility will be open to students and community members to undergo training and education opportunities on the new site. It will also provide a valuable long-term revenue source for the university at its Brooksville Agricultural and Environmental Research Station.

“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.

“We look forward to a long and healthy partnership with Duke Energy.”

Once operational, it’s expected the facility will provide electricity for approximately 23,000 average-sized homes at peak production. All the electricity created from the project will be fed onto the Duke electric grid and delivered to a whole array of customers in the area, including homes, businesses, schools, and religious buildings.

The plant is part of Duke’s long-term strategic plan to acquire 700 megawatts of solar energy in Florida by 2022.

The investment also allows them to explore new, innovative clean energy opportunities with other community partners and grow their dream of spreading cost-effective, flexible, and dependable utility-owned solar to all of their customers.

“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 Duke Energy Florida Director of Distributed Generation Strategy, Tamara Waldmann.