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Proposed Duke Energy solar farm could act as an energy source for about 23,000 homes

Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 11:56 PM EDT
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HIGH SPRINGS, Fla. (WCJB) -A new solar farm near High Springs could help power roughly 23,000 Alachua County homes, and the project is expected to span 720 acres. Although the project wouldn’t fall within city limits, it will be close, so leaders and residents heard from the Duke Energy team Thursday night about how this will impact their town.

The solar panels would need the help of sunlight and other energy sources. The roughly 200,000 panels would be set in place for about 30 years.

“It has to be complemented with something either some of our gas generation or batteries. About 23,000 homes, and it also takes about 28,000 cars off the road as far as carbon benefit,” explained Tom Lawery, a Manager of Renewable Energy and Wholesale at Duke Energy.

RELATED STORY: Levy County commissioners approve new solar power farm in Chiefland

This type of solar farm proposal in other parts of the area has been met with stiff resistance.

Lawery admits the amount of land being taken up and the length of time it is being used could be considered a downfall. However, he said that is one of the tradeoffs when people decide to move to renewable energy. According to Lawery, one of the positives about this type of project is that it requires much less maintenance.

“I would like to think there is minimal impact, it uses no water. It’s a quiet site. The panels are only about 9 feet tall. There is a vegetative buffer so most of the adjacent properties won’t see this,” explained Lawery. “It brings in a fair amount of revenue as far as tax base and construction jobs.”

Doris Wright, a lifelong High Springs resident, thinks if the project is done right, it could be a very successful addition to the area.

“We going to put a buffer with some trees. As long as we start outright make the trees large enough that they can preserve our habitat,” said Wright.

If she ends up saving, she thinks that is a great benefit.

“Anything that helps us save money as a senior citizen we are going to be for it,” explained Wright.

RELATED STORY: Archer City Commission passes resolution opposing solar farm

Lawery wants people to understand they might not be able to cash in on the savings right away.

“As time goes on and natural gas prices fluctuate a little bit, this will help us balance that in the state of Florida,” explained Lawery.

High Springs Commissioners discussed the project but did not take any vote because this project falls on county land.

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