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


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HIGH SPRINGS, Fla. (WCJB) – A new solar farm near High Springs could help power approximately 23,000 homes in Alachua County, and the project is expected to be 720 acres. While the project wouldn’t be within city limits, things are getting tight, so executives and local residents heard from the Duke Energy team on Thursday night how this will affect their city.

The solar panels would need the help of sunlight and other energy sources. The approximately 200,000 panels would be used for around 30 years.

“It either has to be supplemented by something from our gas generation or batteries. About 23,000 households, and about 28,000 cars are also being taken off the road to use CO2, ”said Tom Lawery, manager of renewable energy and wholesale at Duke Energy.

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In other parts of the area, this type of solar park proposal has met with fierce opposition.

Lawery admits that the amount of land that is claimed and the length of time it has been in use could be viewed as a decline. However, he said that this is one of the tradeoffs when people choose to switch to renewable energy. According to Lawery, one of the positives about this type of project is that it requires a lot less maintenance.

“I would like to think that the impact is minimal, no water is used. It’s a quiet side. The panels are only about 9 feet high. There’s a vegetative buffer so most of the adjoining lots don’t see it, ”Lawery explained. “It brings in a fair amount of income in terms of tax base and construction jobs.”

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

“We’ll set up a buffer with a couple of trees. As long as we start making the trees big enough so they can sustain our habitat, ”Wright said.

If she ends up saving, she thinks it will be a great advantage.

“Anything that helps us save money as seniors, we’ll be for it,” Wright said.

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Lawery wants people to understand that they may not be able to redeem the savings right away.

“Over time and with natural gas prices fluctuating a little, this will help us compensate for this in the state of Florida,” said Lawery.

The High Springs commissioners discussed the project but did not vote as the project falls on county land.

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